The Watt Institution in Greenock – named after one of the town’s most famous sons, the inventor James Watt – is set to re-open to the public at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 22, following at £2.1 million revamp.

The complex includes the McLean Museum & Art Gallery, the Watt Library and Watt Hall.

The buildings have been closed for several years for a refurbishment programme to take place.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, Convener of the Council’s Education and Communities Committee, said: “The Watt Institution is a key facility which preserves a wealth of significant material including letters from Greenock-born inventor and mechanical engineer, James Watt.

“As with any renovation project involving a complex with the earliest part dating back more than 180 years, we ran into some unexpected issues, including more dry and wet rot in the Library’s roof. This has now been treated and we’re confident that local people will be impressed with the result of the work we’ve had done.

“The opening hours at the refurbished Watt Institution (both the McLean Museum and the Watt Library) have changed and are Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The reduction in opening hours has been forced on the council due to cuts in our funding.”

Inverclyde Council funded the bulk of the refurbishment work, with £300,000 coming from Historic Environment Scotland.

The Watt Institution owes its origins to the Greenock Philosophical Society. The society’s growing collection of artificial and natural curiosities was the foundation for a museum first proposed in 1863.

The Watt Library, housing the commemorative statue of Watt by Sir Francis Chantrey, dates from 1837 and the McLean Museum and Watt Hall from 1876. The lecture hall and museum building were funded by local timber merchant James McLean, who was also a member of the Greenock Philosophical Society.

Councillor Jim Clocherty said: “It’s a small point but one worth mentioning. The Watt Institution hasn’t been renamed. This is its legal name and always has been. We are just bringing it back into everyday use as it covers all the separate elements of the complex including: the McLean Museum & Art Gallery, the Watt Library, and the Watt Hall.”

Read the Council press release here.Watt Institution logo

The McLean Museum and Art Gallery in Greenock during the recent refurbishment work.
The McLean Museum and Art Gallery in Greenock during the recent refurbishment work.