Collections and conservation

Historic buildings are more than just structures: they are repositories of history and memory, filled with the work of the craftspeople who furnished and maintained them; the sum total of the efforts of the communities which surrounded them and the status and ambitions of the people who owned them.

Every property has stories to tell and those cared for by the Trust are filled with tens of thousands of artefacts which range from great works of art to humble domestic objects.  What each has in common is that it was part of a life once lived.

Our expert staff follow a regime of ‘preventative conservation’, which means that they identify and manage threats to all items in our collections, whether they be books in a magnificent library, fragile gilded mirrors or original carpets and curtains.

Time, temperature, humidity and even sunlight can wreak havoc in our collections, as can pests like woodworm and moths.  It is a 24/7 responsibility that never ends and through which our staff have to be eternally and painstakingly vigilant.

Our staff travel all over Scotland to safeguard and conserve artwork, objects, fixtures and fittings and to uncover and record original decorative schemes.  Our archaeologists work alongside conservation teams to seek the earliest structures and sites of occupation in and around our properties, often finding objects which throw a light on the distant past, such as an early Christian ‘cursing stone’ on the Isle of Canna, and artefacts of more recent times, such as wartime aircrash sites.

If you are lucky, you might see our staff at work when you visit a Trust property and it is then that you can glimpse the professionalism and dedication on which the conservation of Scotland’s heritage depends.

  Find out more

Collections, Archives & Library Services (CALS)


Collections Conservation Services (CCS)


To Your Mouse, The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum Collection


The St Kilda Diaries


My Favourite Thing




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