The Highlanders’ Museum is one of the largest (outside of Edinburgh) and most highly regarded military heritage museums in the United Kingdom. It has been situated within Fort George, an eighteenth century barracks complex outside Inverness, since 1964.
The Fort itself receives over 66,000 visitors per annum, and the museum is one of the main attractions within the Fort. It is home to a huge archive which is used primarily for ancestry research and operated by a number of volunteers.
The beginning – HIE’s involvement / Mar a tha HIE an sàs
Due to a lack of resources, the museum has remained largely unchanged since the early 1980s. As a potential social enterprise of growth, HIE’s involvement has supported the museum committee to realise their growth aspirations to create the best military museum in Scotland.
The comprehensive development, costing in the region of £3 million, was planned with the help of partner organisations in order to transform the museum into a state of the art modern day interactive facility focusing on interpretation, care, access, and education.
The museum redevelopment was launched in 2009 with a high profile fundraising campaign and after being closed for the past eighteen months, was formally reopened on the 29th March 2013 by Convenor of the Highland Council, Jimmy Gray.
At the outset advisory support (strategic planning) was provided through the specialist support contract to determine realistic growth targets. Through a phased approach, HIE’s Inner Moray Firth (IMF) Area Team funded Phase 1 and 2; planning and design to a sum of £63,813 and £220,000 towards the redevelopment project (total project costs, £3 million).
Alongside the construction phase, HIE IMF have been working with the museum to create and realise an effective marketing plan, consider suitable high profit shop merchandise and helping the museum to create effective partnerships in the tourism sector.
Nicola Ewing, HIE, said: “HIE is delighted at the reopening of the Highlanders’ Museum. One of the most highly regarded military museums in the UK, the link with the local community is clear with a history dating back centuries. The fundraising campaign has sparked the imagination, with support coming from across the country and beyond. We would like to congratulate everyone involved in transforming the museum into a major, state of the art attraction which will have significant impacts benefiting the local economy and the wider tourism sector.”
A new growth plan will be in development after the museum has re-opened to focus on the income generating aspects of the project and to capture the anticipated outputs over the next three years.
Linking with HIE’s culture policy, the redevelopment project will go towards ensuring that our region continues to be recognised as a globally distinctive, culturally rich and successful creative region and with better physical accessibility, display interpretation and collection care, retail, conference and hospitality facilities which go hand in hand with improved education facilities, will ensure the museum is financially sustainable for years to come.
The upgraded museum will enhance Fort George as a top quality, all weather major tourist attraction for the IMF area and potentially generate over £400,000 a year for the local economy. Income of £121,000 in 2010 is expected to grow to £298,050 by 2015, 5 FTE positions will be retained and 4 additional FTE positions will have been created.
Nicola Ewing, Tel. 01349 868392