Since it was first mentioned in 1545, Provost Skene's House has had a chequered history, undergoing several alterations and changes of use. In 1622 the house was bought by Matthew Lumsden, a wealthy merchant. During his occupancy an important cycle of religious paintings, depicting the life of Christ, was added and his coat of arms may be seen on a dormer window in the roof of the west wing.
Provost George Skene lived in the house later in the 17th century and is thought to have commissioned the carved plaster ceilings when he made some structural alterations to the building in 1676. In the 18th century, the Duke of Cumberland commandeered the house for his troops on their march north to Culloden. After this, it was known as 'Cumberland House', a name which survived into the 20th century, when the building, which had hitherto housed the famous and wealthy, became a public lodging house for the city's poor.
In the 1930s, when adjacent houses in this formerly grand but now very run-down area of the city were demolished, a campaign was launched to save Provost Skene's House and an extensive programme of refurbishment began. In 1953, the house was opened to the public as a 'Period House and Museum of Local History' by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In 1993, with financial support from the friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums all the rooms were refurbished in various period styles. In addition visitors can see a changing programme of exhibitions focussing on the history and archaeology of Aberdeen and its residents, epitomised by a lively changing display of costume and fashion.
To find out more about this fascinating and historic building watch the film:
The House will be closed during the development of Marischal Square. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.