Maritime and Fisheries

Visit this zone to follow fishing through times of boom and bust, and discover how Shetlanders relied on wages from work on merchant ships to support their families.

Changes in technologies have produced larger boats and bigger catches. Some sectors of the industry have fared better than others, with many people having worked ashore in processing. Thousands of Shetlanders made their living sailing deep-sea in the merchant fleet, and island homes had many a foreign curio to display.

Navigating the busy sea routes around Shetland could be dangerous. A dramatic display shows debris from ships wrecked on the islands, and visitors will discover how local people risked their lives to save others.

Themes here include: Pelagic and whitefish fisheries, smuggling, whaling, merchant marine, shipwrecks, lighthouses and lifesaving.

Highlights include:

  • Singer car – This 1930s car was bought by a Shetlander with his wages from the whaling.
  • Curios and artwork made by mariners from materials such as Whale eardrums, or Whale teeth.
  • Ship fixtures - such as the figurehead and ships wheel from the Cod Smack, Janet Hay.