DETAILS have been shared about proposals for a new museum at Tundergarth dedicated to the Lockerbie Disaster.
The ‘Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Historical Museum’ would be located on the site of the old 1771 ruins, in the corner of the rural kirkyard, see picture.
And its aim would be to educate visitors about the 1988 disaster, the events behind it and the 270 victims.
The ruins, along with the Memorial Room, are currently the subject of a community asset transfer from Dumfries and Galloway Council to Tundergarth Kirks Trust who are developing the project in collaboration with the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Legacy Foundation, which was set up by Victoria Cummock, whose husband John died in the bombing.
Original plans for a colombarium at Tundergarth have now been dropped in
favour of the museum scheme, and the foundation and the trust are fully focused on making it a reality as soon as possible, subject to planning approval and development permissions.
The foundation’s UK project manager Lori Carnochan, who lives in Lockerbie and is also the kirk trust’s interim chair, is spearheading the work and explained the vision is for an “expanded exhibition to human dignity, courage, sacrifice, and contemplation”.
She said: “We wanted a memorial museum to remember, educate and tell the story of Lockerbie.
“In the Tundergarth Memorial Room at the moment you can find out about the victims, view banners and use computers, but there’s not enough space to do justice to the other two points.”
She believes their plan will ensure the survival of the small country church, described as an ‘iconic site’, well into the future as “overheads are rocketing and repairs needed.”
Meetings have been held with archaeologists, planners, Historic Environment Scotland, South of Scotland Enterprise and architects and Lori says momentum is growing around the proposal.
Advice and ideas are also being sought from the curators of the 9/11 Museum in New York.
And the team are keen for community involvement: “We want this to be as much of a community project as possible and involve the community from the get-go. We want Lockerbie people to be at the heart of it. We want an open conversation so people feel part of and are not just told what’s happening,” said Lori.
Acknowledging the sensitivities, she added: “We are trying to hit the right tone. We want feedback, good and bad.
“It’s a very emotive and sensitive thing in the town and for a lot of people it’s too painful still.
“But the fact is it has happened and it’s now a historic event. With the museum at Tundergarth, it’s a place where people, if they want to go, can go and if they do not want to, it’s not in their face.”
Education will take centrestage and local schools will be invited to take part in early stage archaeological digs, while age-appropriate learning packs will be developed too.
Lori added: “If you go to Ground Zero it’s a very educational place and we want to create somewhere people can come, learn about the victims, the bombing and what happened before it. We want to put it into context right up to today.
“We also want to have a section where we celebrate Lockerbie, the hometown heroes such as the laundry ladies, the firefighters, the police officers: those stories that if we do not collet them now and put them somewhere they will be gone.”
Exhibits could include the use of augmented reality to give a replica view of the nosecone where it lay in the field across from the proposed museum site, as well as audio or video firsthand accounts from the first responders on the scene.
“Everything will be done to the highest standard and detail,” said Lori, adding: “We will try and be as sensitive as possible. The museum will be all encompassing and impactful as it’s still the worst terrorist attack on UK soil.”
Looking forward, the trust envisages offering area walks and site tours too.
Furthermore, an app is also in the pipeline to promote all that modern Lockerbie has to offer and Lori said: “We want people to see what the town is. It’s not just about that awful night.
“There’s been 50,000 visitors to that memorial room since it started and they are just the ones that signed the visitors’ book. We want them to stay and explore so people in the town benefit from people coming anyway.”