Lews Castle

Museum & Archive

Discover our Island history · Meet the Lewis Chessmen · Uncover stories of land and sea

It’s free to visit the museum and our special exhibition gallery. Find us at Lews Castle, Stornoway, HS2 0RX .

Opening Hours

10am until 5pm 1 April to 30 September

1pm until 4pm 1 October to 31 March

Closed Thursdays and Sundays

The museum has been designed to be fully accessible – see our list of accessibility features.


  • Discover the distinctiveness of the Outer Hebrides, shaped by a unique combination of land, sea and people.
  • Youngsters can dress up to perform various island jobs, learn some Gaelic, and enjoy imaginative activities.
  • Hear from islanders about the Gaelic language, work, religion, emigration and community.
  • View the Outer Hebrides as never before in a wrap-around audio-visual presentation

Archive open by appointment during office hours. Enquiries can be sent to archives@cne-siar.gov.uk


Scotland’s Early Silver

Discover the story of Scotland’s early silver,SESWEBand how this precious metal helped to shape the first kingdoms of Scotland, in Scotland’s Early Silver at Museum nan Eilean Lews Castle until 23 June.

Featuring spectacular objects dating from AD75 to AD1000, and supported by the Glenmorangie Research Project on Early Medieval Scotland, Scotland’s Early Silver explore the part that silver played in the transformation of society in Scotland throughout the first millennium AD.

Scotland’s Early Silver is a National Museums Scotland touring exhibition

  • May

    • 2nd

      Scotland’s Early Silver

      The partnership between Museum nan Eilean and National Museums Scotland continues with the opening of Scotland’s Early Silver, a National Museums Scotland touring exhibition featuring spectacular silver objects dating from AD75 to AD1000. We are proud to be the first venue on the tour, with the exhibition open until 23 June.

  • August

    • 12th

      Colin Mackenzie: Collector Extraordinaire

      The first exhibition of Colin Mackenzie’s amazing collection amassed during his time as Surveyor General of India opens. Mackenzie, born in Stornoway, developed a huge interest in the archaeology and religious heritage of the subcontinent, amassing a vast number of sculptures and drawings which he always intended to show in his hometown.

  • April

    • 12th

      Fossil Hunters Opens

      Fossil Hunters, a touring exhibition from the natural history collection at National Museums Scotland, opened with a special talk by curator Nick Fraser.

  • March

    • 6th

      Formal Opening

      Lews Castle, Museum nan Eilean and Tasglann nan Eilean are formally opened by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. The opening includes theatrical and musical performances by pupils from the Nicolson Institute, Uig School and Point School.

  • November

    • 3rd

      Nordic House

      Nordic House arrives in the Special Exhibition Gallery. The show, examining the art and culture of Nordic countries and drawing upon the similarities and differences to life in present-day Scotland, is curated by Lesley Riddoch and has toured Scottish venues since opening during the Edinburgh Festival in 2015.

  • July

    • 15th

      Public Opening

      Museum & Tasglann nan Eilean and the beautiful ground floor of Lews Castle, alongside Natural Retreats’ Storehouse and Outfitters, opened to the public at 10am on 14 July. The 7 Scots pipe and drum band performed outside before Leader of the Council Angus Robertson rang the Castle’s historic bell to welcome in the first visitors.

  • May

    • 3rd

      The Grammar of Wavelength

      The Grammar of Wavelength, the first temporary exhibition at Museum nan Eilean Lews Castle opens in advance of the main galleries. A collaboration between poet Iain Stephen and artist Christine Morrison, the exhibition compares their land and sea travel around the Outer Hebrides with other journeys on further-flung continents.

  • December

    • 1st

      The Great Tapestry of Scotland

      The new galleries at Lews Castle may not be quite ready but The Great Tapestry of Scotland Exhibition is attracting a lot of visitors at our museum gallery in Sgoil Lionacleit in Benbecula.

  • November

    • 1st

      Archive Team

      Meet Seonaid McDonald Archivist and Dawn Macdonald Archives Assistant – the new Archives Team are in place!

  • October

    • 1st

      Women of World War One

      Our first evening event with The Islands Book Trust in our Education Room in the new Museum. Barely an empty seat for author Elisabeth Shipton’s talk on Women of World War One.

  • September

    • 1st

      From the old to the new…

      Goodbye to the old Museum in Francis Street …

  • August

    • 1st

      Pop-Up!

      A lot of fun with the Pop-Up Museum at the Carloway Show.

  • July

    • 1st

      July 2015

      The ‘Ann af Sand’, a Norwegian sloop from 1848, and part of Stavanger Maritime Museum, was in Stornoway Harbour on Saturday 11 July. Here is Trish (Manager Libraries and Heritage) exploring life on board.

  • June

    • 1st

      June 2015

      As part of our Sound/Art and place names project S5 Gaelic Higher pupils interviewed Catriona Garbutt and Alasdair MacEachan about Benbecula place names of old.

  • May

    • 1st

      May 2015

      Anna and Maree (our MGS Heritage Horizon trainees) have been hard at work at the museum store in Stornoway re-boxing and packing archives. We’ll shortly be moving the archive collection to the store at the new museum so it’s important the archives are boxed for safe transport.

  • April

    • 10th

      April 2015

      The stratigraphy in the section on Land. You can touch and feel the different textures of earth, stone and artefacts in the layers.

  • March

    • 1st

      March 2015

      This is a sneak preview of a vintage car- the first object to be installed in the new museum – and it is on loan from National Museums Scotland. It is being put on a ramp for elevating to ceiling height for display.

  • February

    • 1st

      February 2015

      Some of the Heritage Team were very excited to get into the new museum last week to see how work was progressing. It might look like a big empty space just now but we can already imagine all the exciting exhibitions and objects that are going to be in here.

  • January

    • 5th

      January 2015

      @ThinkUHI art students in Benbecula using our collections for inspiration

  • December

    • 1st

      December 2014

      The Heritage Manager gets a glimpse into the production of the museum galleries carcasses in production at the Workhaus studios in Yorkshire. The finish is beautiful on the plinths. We can’t wait to see the graphic panels and image panels go into production in January.

  • November

    • 1st

      November 2014

      When we get the Harris Tweed cushions in, the long corridor will be a lovely place to relax and look at the view over the harbour.

  • October

    • 1st

      October 2014

      Angus, our Heritage Officer for Lewis & Harris, is doing an ‘object handling’ session at the Bridge Centre in Stornoway during the holidays.

  • September

    • 1st

      September 2014

      The Comhairle’s  Lews Castle Team in Edinburgh to meet with the Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland and update them on how our new museum and archives project is going and what we’ve been busy working on.

All images ©Isobel Martin unless otherwise stated