Shock as refurbished museum is set to close

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ST VIGEANS Museum, which re-opened after a major facelift in April, 2009, is no longer to be open to the passing public.

This has been confirmed by Kevin Grandison, who has been steward since the museum re-opened.

But from April 17 he will no longer be employed by Historic Scotland to explain to visitors the significance of Pictish stones on show there, and the museum’s doors will be locked.

Clearly disappointed, Mr Grandison said St Vigeans is “an impressive little museum, very popular with its visitors”.

He added that there are complimentary entries in the visitors’ book from America, Australia and other places far afield.

He feels that winter closure, as happens at the Meigle museum, would have been appropriate.

Current opening hours are: winter, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and summer, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The official opening in 2009 was endorsed by the Scottish Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Michael Russell MSP, who said: “I am delighted that this magnificent collection of Pictish stones is being opened up to a wider audience than ever before.”

The artefacts at St Vigeans make up one of the most important collections of its kind. It includes the Drosten Stone, which is among the great masterpieces of Pictish art.

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland told the Herald: “There are no plans to close St Vigeans Museum; however we have been reviewing the visitor access arrangements for the site, against projected visitor numbers which were 1,339 visitors in 2010.

“From April, we will introduce a pre-booking facility to manage access through our staff at Arbroath Abbey. Requests for access will be organised during our standard opening times from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., 4.30 p.m. in winter, for seven days a week.

“We believe that the introduction of pre-booking will give more flexible access for visitors to experience this fantastic collection of Pictish stone art.”