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Museum Service

Museum nan Eilean is the local authority museum service of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and was established in 1983.  We operate two accredited museums and two museum stores in two islands – Lewis and Benbecula.

The museum has a remit to collect, care for and make publicly available material from the whole of the Outer Hebrides, including abandoned islands like the Monach Isles, Taransay, and the double World Heritage Site of St Kilda. The collections are owned by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and held in trust by the museum for the people of the Outer Hebrides for research, education and enjoyment now and in the future.

Visiting our museums

You can find out more about our museums on the links below;

Museum nan Eilean Stornoway – on the isle of Lewis

Museum nan Eilean Lionacleit – on the isle of Benbecula

Permanent exhibitions in Stornoway

There are four permanent exhibition galleries in Museum nan Eilean Stornoway which give a taste of the story of the Outer Hebrides:

  • Dùthchas – an immersive film which is a firm favourite with many of our visitors. The film lets you experience the changing landscapes across the Outer Hebrides from moorland to machair, and from croft to seascapes.
  • Eileanaich – this gallery focuses on the people of the islands through photographs and audiovisual presentations. In their own words they tell you about the reality of life on the islands which may challenge some visitors’ preconceptions. This is also where you can find out about the Comainn Eachdraidh | Historical Societies located across the islands.
  • Blas nan Eilean – this is the main gallery and covers the themes of the Land, the Sea, Working Life and Community Life. This gallery includes six Lewis Chessmen on loan from the British Museum and significant loans from the National Museums of Scotland including archaeology and a 3 wheeler Morgan car.
  • Air an Stairsich – this space considers issues affecting the modern day and future such as the recycling and reuse of materials, sport and fashion (including what we can learn from the past).

Special Exhibitions in Benbecula and Lewis

As well as permanent exhibitions in Stornoway, both museums also host or organise special exhibitions and events for visitors to enjoy. Find out more about what you can see or do in our What’s On section.


Museum nan Eilean holds collections relating to the social history, regional ethnography and archaeology of the Outer Hebrides. Social, historical and ethnographic artefacts date mainly from the 19th or 20th centuries and the archaeology collections span from the Mesolithic to the end of the Cold war era.
There are approximately 6,000 artefacts. To find out more visit our collections overview page.

Other services

We also offer a range of additional services which can be viewed here.

If you cannot find what you are looking for please contact us.

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