The Unst Heritage Centre owes its existence to the foresight and effort of the original Unst History Group.
Realising that a way of life linked to the old methods of crofting and fishing was disappearing, they organised an exhibition of old artefacts in the Haroldswick Hall.
The response was encouraging, making visitors realise that many similar items had already been cast aside.
A further exhibition was organised to coincide with the 1985 ‘Hamefaring’.
It became a priority to save both these artefacts and their stories so the hunt was on to find a suitable permanent home for them. Cost and availability were to make the task very difficult. However, Mouat’s Shop at Haroldswick became vacant and available in 1997.After alterations, much of it carried out by volunteers, it reopened to the public as the Unst Heritage Centre.
Joan Mouat and May Sutherland, with their extensive knowledge of Unst and its people did a sterling job as its main curators. Over the following years old treasures gathered till the building was groaning at the seams.
When the Haroldswick School closed in 1997 the History Group saw the possibility of a larger and suitable venue where the growing collection could be extended and developed.
The Shetland Amenity Trust came to the rescue by purchasing the School and leasing it back to the History Group. The move was made and the old school, which had served the area for 117 years, found a suitable role as Unst’s Heritage Centre.
At this stage the Unst Heritage Trust was formed to manage the Unst Heritage Centre and the Unst Boat Haven.