For me the mark of a successful museum is not necessarily its grandeur but its ability to take you back to a time or place that otherwise would have been lost. At Auchindrain there are no glass cases or exhibits perched on a high shelf and no security guards watching your every move. And I think this is where Auchindrain succeeds where others fail.
Despite the Highland Clearances, where thousands of townships were replaced by modern farms, crofts and estates, Auchindrain survived and was, in fact, occupied until 1963. Situated six miles south of Inveraray on the A83 it is well worth a visit whether you go as a photographer or to learn more about Scottish history.
On the afternoon of my visit photography was initially the only thing on my mind but once I walked through the gate and up the hill to the first cottages I soon become immersed in a quite different world with the only link to the 21st century being my digital SLR.
As I walked into the first cottage I immediately stepped into the past and had a brief taste of life in the township, somewhat envious of the simplicity of life here but also mindful of the hardship many of its occupants must have endured particularly in the winter months.
In terms of photographic possibilities the list is endless and there is quite simply something for everyone.
It has landscapes, architecture, people, still life….
Working with your camera inside the buildings can be quite challenging but great fun. For me recreating timeless scenes was very exciting and interesting. Even the Auchindrain chickens were on hand to assist although they are not the most cooperative models I have ever worked with!
You are able to wander amongst the houses and around the township without restriction. If you really want to explore Auchindrain properly I would recommend a full afternoon at the very least. My time there seemed to pass very quickly although I will be heading back soon as I still have some shots in my mind that I have to complete. As a final bonus I enjoyed what is arguably one of the finest sunsets I have seen in a long time. A fantastic end to a great day.
During the high season the cafe and gift shop are open. Officially the museum is open from April to October however you can telephone them outside these dates to check for winter opening times.
Visit the museum website at www.auchindrain.org.uk for contact details.
Please note that Photo Argyll has not been paid for this review.
For our next review we will be heading up to the watchtower on Dun na Cuaiche, a hill with spectacular views of Inveraray and Loch Fyne.