The Museum of the Isles is open 9.30am-5.00pm every day from 29th March-1st November 2024

Experience the history of the Highlands and Islands through the epic story of Clan Donald, Scotland’s largest and most powerful clan. Witness the clan’s changing fortunes, from mighty Lords of the Isles, through the tumult of Jacobite risings, to the hardship of clearance and emigration.

Young visitors will enjoy exploring the Museum with our children’s trails, designed for different abilities and ages from pre-school upwards. There’s also an activity area with books, toys and dressing up. We usually have school holiday family activities and changing exhibitions too. Visit our events pages to find out what’s on.

There’s plenty to see and most visitors spend between 45 minutes and 1 hour in the Museum.

We are proud to be Skye’s only museum fully accredited by Museums Galleries Scotland. The Museum has received a number of awards including Museum of the Year Award and Museum of the Year Research Facility Award.

What’s in the Museum?

Our five main galleries take you through 1500 years of history and culture in the area once known as the Kingdom of the Isles. From broadswords to bagpipes, portraits to pamphlets, our collection brings alive this rich period of history.

Lords of the Isles

The introductory gallery sets the scene. We start with Somerled, who established the Lordship of the Isles and founded a dynasty. At its medieval height, under the leadership of Clan Donald, the Lordship extended from the Western Isles all the way to Ireland. In this gallery we also display objects that pre-date the Lordship, including Bronze Age and Viking artefacts.

Jacobites and Clan Chiefs

The Jacobite gallery tells of turbulent times in the 17th and 18th centuries. Here you can see impressive weaponry including a Highland targe (shield), fine basked-hilted swords and a rare 17th century firearm, the Gunna Breac, which is inscribed with the famous battles where it was reputedly carried. Our Jacobite collection also includes objects associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie, and beautiful engraved glasses dedicated to the prince.

After the Jacobites’ final defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the relationship between clansmen and chiefs changed dramatically. The Chiefs to Landlords gallery evokes the lifestyles of the increasingly Anglicised clan chiefs at this time. Fine china, jewels, bagpipes and ceremonial weapons are among the objects on show here.  You can also see wonderful portraits by renowned artists Angelica Kauffmann and Sir Henry Raeburn.

Crofting and Emigration

Things were very different for Highland farmers and crofters. In our Crofting gallery you can get a taste of the everyday life of those who lived off the land. See traditional tools and implements used in farming, fishing, spinning and weaving, including an original hand-loom. Many of these items were collected from Skye crofts.

In our final gallery, Emigration, we share stories of those who left the Highlands and Islands. Some went willingly to start a new life abroad, but many were forced to leave their homes, either by eviction or rising rents. They settled all across the world: in Australia, Canada, the USA and New Zealand. Their descendants are part of our modern Clan Donald family.

Our collection

Here’s a small taster of some of the objects in our collection. These are normally on display though sometimes we do loan items to other museums for special exhibitions.