The development of lighthouses owed much to Scottish engineers, and particularly to the dynasty established by Robert Stevenson (1771-1850), who was engineer to the Northern Lighthouse Board for much of his working life, and designed 20 lighthouses, as well as building roads and bridges. He should not be confused with Robert Stephenson (1803-59) the railway engineer.
The lighthouse on Kinnaird Head near the busy fishing port of Fraserburgh was the first to be built on the mainland of Scotland, and was completed in 1787. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1991.The principal part of a visit to the museum is a guided tour of the lighthouse itself, the top of which must be reached by climbing 72 steps. Displays in the buildings around the lighthouse tower, some of them interactive, include a large collection of lenses, exhibitions about different forms of lighting, and illustrations of the isolated ways of life of lighthouse keepers.