The museum is dedicated to the Cameron Highlanders, Seaforth Highlanders, Queen’s Own Highlanders and their affiliated regiments. Whilst the museum already houses one of the largest collections of historic artefacts relating to a regiment of the British Army, the proposed refurbishment will transform it into a centre of excellence for the military heritage of the entire Highlands and Islands.
Actor High Grant launched the public appeal to raise funds for the project in November 2010. His grandfather Col James Murray Grant received the Distinguished Service Order for bravery during World War II.
The project will include the creation of a dedicated ‘Education Space’, which aims to teach young people about the rich heritage of the region. In order to facilitate the new space, a new library and study centre will be developed within a wing that has recently been leased to the museum by the Ministry of Defence. In addition, new educational resources will be created to link their collection to the National Curriculum.
New storage facilities will also be created. The majority of the collection will remain on display; however, it will be rotated in order to make sure that there is always something new to see for frequent visitors. In addition, the plan incorporates new Information Technology infrastructure which will allow interactive displays to be installed for the first time.
Sadly, many of the exhibits have begun to deteriorate due to the environmental conditions of the museum building. This is particularly apparent with regards to the textiles collection, some of which dates back to the battle of Waterloo. In order to combat this problem and prevent further deterioration, new glass display cases and a new air conditioning system will be installed.
The layout of the of the display rooms will be changed so that the key displays are on the first and ground floors only, and a lift will be installed to aid disabled access.
The project has been awarded £924,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of an £18m package of grants for tourism, renewable energy and transport projects in the Highlands and Islands. To date, £2.5m of the £3.2m needed has been raised.
Chairman of The Highlanders’ Museum trustees, Major General Peter Grant Peterkin, said: “We are trying to raise £3 million, so quite clearly a grant like this is a very significant brick in the wall.
“This is much wider than the museum itself. It’s good news for Fort George as a great visitor attraction and enhances the recent refurbishment of the Culloden centre and the work the Campbell family has been doing at Cawdor.”
A donation of £1,500 will cover the cost of a display dedicated to the Liverpool Scottish, which was raised to fight in the Second Boer War in 1900.
Museum chairman, Maj Gen Seymour Monro, said he was delighted with the Liverpool Scottish support.
Col Ian Paterson, president of the Liverpool Scottish Regimental Association, added: “The Liverpool Scottish was an important and valued member of the regimental family in the Highlands for the major part of the 20th century.
“As such it is appropriate that we support this splendid museum at Fort George and that we place here notable items reflecting that great history for display and safe keeping.”
Historic Scotland plans to relaunch Fort George as a tourist attraction in 2012.
A history to be proud of
The Highlanders’ Museum is one of the largest regimental museums in Scotland, covering three floors of Fort George’s former Lieutenant Governor’s House. The museum has roughly 20,000 artefacts and an estimated 10,000 documents and photographs.
Strategically sited to guard the approaches to Inverness after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, Fort George is a registered historic monument. After 250 years as a military garrison and training depot, it continues to house a Regular Infantry Battalion of the British Army. This key historic site, cared for by Historic Scotland, is visited by over 60,000 people every year.