The project to redevelop the Highlanders' Museum has received a major boost by an award of £200,000 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). This comes hot on the heels of an award of £924,000 by the European Regional Development Fund earlier this month.
The Museum is housed within Fort George, which was built to guard the approaches to Inverness after the 1745 Jacobite uprising. After 250 years as a military garrison and training depot it continues to house a Regular Infantry Battalion of the British Army. The Museum is one of the most highly regarded in the UK and explains the history of all the Regiments raised from the Highlands and Islands from just after the Battle of Culloden right up to the present day operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Fort George itself receives over 66,000 visitors per year and the Museum is the main attraction. Having remained largely physically unchanged since the early 1980s, the Highlanders Museum Development project was launched in August 2009 to bring the Museum up to 21st century standards. The comprehensive development will cost in the region of £3million and transform the Museum into a state of the art interactive education and learning facility with full disabled access.
An independent economic impact assessment has outlined that after the project is complete the Museum will contribute an additional £400,000 into the regional economy each year as well as supporting the equivalent of 8 new full time jobs.
The Museum holds a rich and varied collection of around 12,000 objects extending over three floors. The redevelopment will include a new genealogical research and archive centre, corporate entertainment suite, family facilities and a retail/gift shop. HIE have previously awarded the Museum £63k towards the initial project design and planning costs.
The public launch of the fundraising appeal took place on November 25 2010 at Fort George, with actor Hugh Grant and his father Capt James Grant as guests of honour.
Major General Seymour Monro, Chairman of the Highlanders' Museum, said: "We are thrilled by HIE's support. This endorsement of our plans has taken our fundraising appeal over the half way mark, which gives us confidence that the project will go ahead and the region will gain a much improved cultural asset. What we need now is the public to get involved and pledge their support too, which they can do through our website".
Nicola Ewing of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "The Highlanders' Museum is home to the biggest military collection outside of London. The link between the Museum and the local community is clear, with a history dating back centuries. We are delighted to be able to support this project and help towards the transformation of the museum into a state of the art, major tourist attraction in the area."
For more information on the Highlanders' Museum or to make a donation to the project visit, www.thehighlandersmuseum.com