Dunbeath is on the south-east coast of Caithness. The Heritage Centre provides a focus for the work of Dunbeath Preservation Trust, and is a repository for local research, photographs and items of local material culture. It also functions as an exhibition and interpretation space, a venue for lectures and storytelling, and a gathering place for local people and visitors.
The Trust was founded in 1985 by the then owner of Dunbeath Estate, the late R. Stanton Avery, 'to support efforts to explore, study, preserve and maintain' the unique natural and cultural heritage of Dunbeath and its strath in harmony with its ongoing contemporary community. Avery's bequest assists the long-term viability of the Trust and its Heritage Centre for the 'educational and other charitable purposes' he intended.
Neil M. Gunn (1891–1973), one of Scotland's twentieth-century authors, who was born and grew up in Dunbeath, attended school in this building. The landscapes and seascapes of Dunbeath and its hinterland were his inspiration. There is one painting in the collection, that of R. Stanton Avery. It is permanently on display and generates interest in the 'sticky labels inventor' story and his Dunbeath legacy.