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10th August 2007 at 01:00
An illicit whisky still, toys belonging to the laird's children and the remains of a 10,000-year-old elk are just some of the hundreds of objects on show at the Museum of Islay Life.

Situated in the conservation village of Port Charlotte on Islay, the award winning museum is open annually from April until the end of September and is regularly visited during term time by the island's four primary schools.

Opened in 1977 in the old Free Kirk, the museum has recently been redesigned to make its collections more accessible to the public. Displays trace the history of the island and its people from the time when flint was used for tools more than 8,000 years ago until the 1950s.

A recreated room from a croft shows how ordinary islanders lived, while objects such as a pair of protective leather boots, worn by the horse that pulled the mower used to cut the lawn at Islay House, illustrate the lifestyle of the local laird and his family.

On display for the first time are dozens of pictures of Islay life, taken by a photographer who ran the stationer's shop on the island from 1905 to the 1940s.

Close by the museum is the child-friendly Wildlife Infor-mation Centre where visitors can find out all about the natural history of Islay. There are displays on shells, mammals, birds and wildflowers; a "touch table" with rocks, bones and feathers and sea life tanks of tadpoles, crabs, small lobsters and other creatures. Activities for children include making pictures using seaweed from the beach.

Museum of Islay Life T 01496 850358; www.islaywildlife.freeserve.co.uk

Wildlife Information Centre

T 01496 850288

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