Scotland’s first Outdoor Museum in Helensburgh wins national Saltire Arts in Public Places Award

Scotland’s first Outdoor Museum in Helensburgh wins national Saltire Arts in Public Places Award

Scotland’s first Outdoor Museum, situated in Helensburgh town centre, has won a Saltire Society Arts in Public Places Award 2016.

The Museum was curated and delivered by art organisation WAVEparticle in collaboration with Austin-Smith:Lord for Argyll and Bute Council.

The Saltire Society Arts in Public Places Awards, which were awarded at a ceremony at the Saltire Society Headquarters in Edinburgh on Thursday 11th August, highlight excellence and demonstrate how arts and crafts can be an intrinsic and beautiful part of our built environment.

The innovative Outdoor Museum sits at the heart of Helensburgh’s wider revitalised town centre public realm, which we designed as part of Argyll and Bute Council’s CHORD regeneration initiative.

The Outdoor Museum in Colquhoun Square was developed and curated with the input and support of local residents, schools and organisations, which helped gather together stories and artefacts about the town that are surprising and revealing, entertaining and stimulating, as well as educational and informative.

The resulting collection features a series of historic artefacts encapsulated in acrylic and three specially commissioned artworks by Lesley Carruthers, Kate Ive and Chris Coleman-Smith.

Together, the exhibits include a celebration of Science – John Logie Baird’s Stookie Bill;
 Business – the ‘Lily Springs’ and the ‘Comrie’ bottling plants;
Art and Craft – the wee shoes crafted by the town’s first shoemaker; Social History – a family heirloom that comes with the story of the lost art of making bespoke butter pats; and Entrepreneurship – the bell of the famous PS Comet commissioned by Henry Bell of Helensburgh, regarded as the father of steam navigation.

Each exhibit has a plinth which gives the historical, cultural and geographic context to the exhibit as well as a QR code linking to the Museum website: www.theoutdoormuseum.com

Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Infrastructure, Helensburgh Councillor Ellen Morton, welcomed the news, saying This is yet another piece of good news for Helensburgh. Winning yet another award is a huge success and is just another in a long list of reasons for people to visit the town.

“The museum makes the newly revamped Colquhoun Square a very interesting place to visit. We would encourage anyone, resident or visitor, to go and take a look.

“The focus of this ambitious council is on attracting people to our area, creating jobs and economic prosperity. Projects like this go a long way to doing just that.’’

WAVEparticle Lead Artist, Peter McCaughey, added It’s fantastic to win this Saltire Award. There were brilliant projects from across Scotland in the running for this and to have won is great for everyone involved. The Saltire Award is the latest in a series of awards and prestigious nominations this year, and our hope is it that this makes the future of the Outdoor Museum undeniable and that each year we see wonderful additions to this alternative museum, embedded at the heart of Helensburgh.”

Graham Ross, Austin-Smith:Lord Partner, concluded We are delighted that the exemplary work of our friends and regular collaborators at WAVEparticle has rightly received national recognition with a prestigious Saltire Award for Arts in Public Places. The Outdoor Museum emerged from a creative collaboration between Austin-Smith:Lord and WAVEparticle and responded directly to the Helensburgh community’s desire for a Town Museum which we thought could be integrated into the reimagined Colquhoun Square.

WAVEparticle has curated and delivered a unique integration of place-specific public art in a contemporary town square and it has been a privilege to collaborate with them to realise our original idea.



“The Outdoor Museum, like the wider regeneration of the town centre public realm, was very much community-focussed and this sense of place shines through.
The vision to create an accessible Outdoor Museum that explores, celebrates and displays the rich and varied history of Helensburgh for local residents and visitors to the town, was developed through a series of community events held over the course of two years.
Involving the community so closely ensured that the Outdoor Museum reflects and records some of the great untold stories, gems of history and heritage, across the town.



“It is also particularly pleasing that the project receives this recognition in the Saltire Society’s 80th anniversary year and in the midst of this Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.”

This is the third national award this year for the wider Helensburgh town centre public realm project which was completed in summer 2015.
The project has also been recognised with a prestigious Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Award as well as a Scottish Design Award.

The project is also short listed in the forthcoming RIAS Doolan Award for Architecture, the largest architectural prize in the UK and one of the most significant architecture awards in the world.

As well as the Outdoor Museum, Helensburgh Town Centre now features attractive, usable and flexible public spaces, walkways, soft landscaped areas, tree lines and lighting columns set out in a way which enhances and frames the high-quality, listed buildings within Colquhoun Square, the civic heart of the town. The project also includes the redevelopment of all of the principal surrounding streets and the West Bay Esplanade.


The full project team includes WAVEparticle, Robinson Low Francis, O’Connor Sutton Cronin and Transport Planning Ltd. The main contractor was Maclay.

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