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Development Department

Economic Development and Business Support

Lews Castle Development Proposals

View from South

The Lews Castle Museum and Archive project represents a major cultural and economic investment proposal by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and its partners.

The project aims to provide:

  • A new museum
  • A new archive for the Outer Hebrides
  • A unique hospitality venue
  • An enhanced, islands wide heritage service

The development proposals include full repair of the exterior fabric of the castle and repair and restoration of the principal rooms on the ground floor.

Central Courtyard

The project will open up the castle for the enjoyment of the local population and visitors to the islands.

Except for the outer courtyard, which is proposed as a learning and community space, the castle accommodation will be leased to a private sector partner for fitting out and operation.

All catering and retail facilities, including the museum café and shop, will be operated by the selected private partner.

A new glazed roof over the internal courtyard will create a café and meeting space which can be accessed from the castle and the museum.

The upper floors of the castle provide an opportunity to develop around 20 high quality hotel bedrooms.

Island-Wide Stories


The new museum will capture the spirit of the Outer Hebrides, focusing on the intimate relationships between the land, the sea and the people of the islands and their Gaelic culture.

Multiple viewpoints will encourage interaction and dialogue, placing the visitor at the centre of the interpretation process.

The museum will actively encourage visitors to explore the network of heritage sites and organisations across the Outer Hebrides, through interpretation, signposting and activity programmes.

Interpretation of Lews Castle and its predecessor, Seaforth Lodge, will be provided within the castle.

Gaelic will be the primary language of interpretation.  Careful design and maxim use of oral, aural and audio visual material will make the stories accessible to the widest possible range of people.

Heritage Lottery Funding involvement in the project provides an opportunity to transform the delivery of heritage services for the whole of the Outer Hebrides,

New posts will enable the service to develop strong links with schools, deliver learning programmes and work closely with community heritage organisations.

The project also offers exciting opportunities for partnerships with a range of national heritage organisations including the National Museums Scotland, National Archives Scotland and the British Museum.

The estimated capital cost of the project is just over £13 million.  The Comhairle has allocated funding of over £3 million and a Round 2 application for Heritage Lottery Funding is proposed in August 2011.

A New Museum And Archive

Long Gallery

The vision is to create a twenty first century museum and archive service for the Outer Hebrides; a museum of the future as well as the past.

It will be a museum of the people, for the people and a gateway to the collective heritage of the Outer Hebrides  – a dispersed resource comprising local museums and heritage groups, collections and archives, important sites and buildings, archaeology and a rich oral history.

The museum will be an active and enjoyable place that will be relevant to people of all ages and backgrounds.  It will encourage people to go out, learn about and enjoy the environment, heritage and communities of the Outer Hebrides.

The new museum and archive will be of interest to the widest possible range of people. 

Repeat visits by local people will be crucial and the museum experience will aim to appeal to children and younger people as well as more traditional audiences.

Design Proposals

The museum galleries and archive facilities will be housed in a new extension to the south west of the castle, on the site of the former glasshouses.

A modern high quality building connected to the castle and extending into the landscape will draw in visitors attracted by the castle and its remarkable grounds.

The new museum facilities will include purpose designed display space, including a special exhibitions gallery for local and national exhibitions and a bright attractive learning and community space within the outer courtyard of the castle.

Historic Scotland grant towards the repair of the castle has been approved and there are ongoing discussions with other potential funding partners.

Subject to funding approvals, construction work is programmed to start in 2012 with opening in 2014.

Gallery North Courtyard


Supported by National Lottery

Press Release

29th June 2011 - Comhairle Unveils Lews Castle Development Proposals

Have Your Say - Community Consultation

  Questionnaire (PDF, 120K)

Questionnaires should be returned to:

Margaret Maclean, Development Department, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Sandwick Road, Stornoway, HS1 2BW