Museum Open
Free Entry
Donations Welcome

Tankerness House, Broad Street,
Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1DH

Welcome to The Orkney Museum

The Orkney Museum tells the story of Orkney from prehistory to the present day. It is an excellent overview and introduction to the history of Orkney and its treasures. There is a large collection of old photos and activities to amuse younger visitors. The Museum’s collection is of national importance, hosting a recognised nationally significant archaeology collection and it has a changing temporary exhibition programme.

The Orkney Museum used to be a house – Tankerness House. For three centuries this house was the home of the Baikie family of Tankerness, whose estate gave the house its name. The north and south wings were originally manses for the Cathedral clergy. After the reformation they were bought by Gilbert Foulzie, the first Protestant minister, who in 1574 built the arched gateway that bears his coat of arms. It opened as a museum in 1968 and is an A-listed building. The Baikie Library and Drawing Room gives the visitor an idea of how the house looked when it was a family home. 

Orkney Museums Social History

What to see

Archaeology Collection

The Archaeology Collection

Orkney is renowned for its spectacular archaeology.  The archaeology collection of Orkney Museum is recognised as a nationally significant collection.  There are approximately 100,000 artefacts in the collection, spanning over 5000 years of human history from the Mesolithic to the Post-Medieval periods.  

On display you can find a cache of stone tools from Isbister Chambered Cairn, Bronze Age metalwork, Pictish symbol stones, and grave goods from the Scar Viking boat burial amongst many other amazing artefacts.

Baikie Library

The Baikie Library & Drawing Room

Orkney Museum is situated in the stunning Tankerness House, which dates to the beginning of the 16th century and though time it has had many owners who’ve used it for different purposes which is a story and an attraction in its own right. However, in 1642 it was bought by the Baikie’s of Tankerness who owned the building up until 1951 when it was sold to the Kirkwall Burgh Council. In the museum you can see some remnants of the Baikie family home in the form of the library and drawing room.

These rooms transport you back into how the Baikie family lived and are a good examples of 19th century rooms. The library contains 487 titles which cover a large subject area and interests.

Contemporary History at Orkney Museum

Contemporary History

It is important to note that not all of Orkney’s history is ancient and many historic traditions, locations and produce are still visible around Orkney today. Orkney museum has several galleries highlighting social history from the past several hundred years which tell these still visible stories.

You can learn about local traditions and of human stories from the people of Orkney. There is a small research area where you can view old photos, videos and read historic documents about Orkney. 

Plan your visit

Orkney Museum

Broad Street, Kirkwall KW15 1DH

What Three Words Location



Free Entry, Donations Welcome

Suggested donation £5

Opening Times

Mon-Sat –10:30am- 5:00pm 

Sunday: Closed

Entry is through the arched gate in Broad Street which brings you into a small courtyard before entering the building. 

The museum shop is now open, selling a range of books and gifts, including local crafts. 

There are accessible toilets are located next to the entrance of the building. 

There is an induction loop available at the museum reception. 

There is an accessible door from Tankerness House Gardens and staff will be available to assist.

There are also galleries upstairs, but stair lifts are available when required.

There is also a hearing loop available on site. 

Assistance dogs are welcome at the museum.

We ask you to use the hand sanitiser provided on entering and leaving the building. 

Face masks are not required on entry, but free face masks are available if you require one. 

Due to the nature and age of the museum, we ask that you take care when walking around the building as there are some uneven surfaces and low doors. 

We only allow assistance dogs within our museums.

If you would like to arrange a school trip to the museum, then please get in touch via email to or phone 01856 873191. 

Currently there are no scheduled guided tours but if you would like to organise a private tour then please get in touch via 

If you would like access to the collection for research purposes, then please get in touch via email 

If you are organising a group tour then please let us know via email at Although entry is free, donations are greatly appreciated. 

If you would like to hire space in the museum for an event or potentially a pop-up exhibition, then please get in touch via email at

Stay connected to Orkney Museum for the latest news, stories, exhibitions, events and visitor information by joining our mailing list.

Events & Exhibitions

Support us

Your support is vital and helps the Museum to share the collection with the world.

Orkney Museum relies on support from a wide range of sources and there are many ways that you can donate to help care for and preserve the collection for future generations. You can donate as an individual, or through a foundation, trust or company. Your support helps us to do the following:

To learn more about how you can support Orkney Museum

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