Museum of Islay Life
Museum of Islay Life
This former church has been transformed into a fascinating museum of Islay life, with thousands of items from prehistoric times to the present day on display.
The redundant Free Church building in Port Charlotte fell out of use in 1929. By 1976 it had become a decaying ruin. It was purchased by the Islay Museums Trust and converted for use as a museum covering island history and genealogy. The former vestry is now an archive library, with over 1000 books about Islay, along with thousands of old photographs. There is a small shop.

The main museum collection showcases 1800 items, ranging from the Mesolithic period (circa 8000 BC) to the 1950s. There is a special focus on the Victorian and Edwardian periods in Islay, with one very interesting exhibit contrasting how the laird lived with how an ordinary family lived at the same time period.

There are prehistoric flint tools and pottery from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. There are several medieval grave slabs, from 1400-1600 AD, gathered from burial sites across the island and brought inside the museum for preservation. There are examples of early Christian stone carvings.

See an illegal whisky still, barrel-making tools, farming equipment, and artefacts from shipwrecks including the WWI ships Tuscania and Otranto.

The museum also publishes several books and pamphlets about Islay, including information on local place names, and a guide to places of interest around the island.

The museum is open seasonally, and there is a small entrance fee.

Because Islay is an island the 'nearest accommodation' properties listed below may not be on Islay itself but on the Scottish mainland. The best source we have found for accommodation on the island is Isle of, a dedicated local website offering a wonderful mix of local information, history, activities, and accommodation information.