Orkney Islands Council took over The Orkney Antiquarian Society’s Museum in 1968 and thus established the first local authority museum in Orkney. The collection moved from the upstairs rooms in the Kirkwall Library to its present location at Tankerness House in 1976, when the first full-time museum officer was appointed. The name changed to Orkney Museum in 1999 to reflect diversity of the collection which covers 5,000 years of human activity in Orkney and includes an archaeology collection of ‘Recognised’ national significance.
The art collection consists of works by artists from Orkney or living and working in Orkney and of local views. It has a number of fine watercolours, sculptures and prints as well as a substantial collection of oil paintings.
The majority of the historic paintings are on display at Orkney Museum. Most of the contemporary collection is on display through a scheme entitled ‘Art in Public Places’ which enables the display of paintings and works of art through various council owned public buildings.