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Health, Wealth and Happiness Project at Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

Health, Wealth and Happiness is a contemporary collecting and engagement project funded by a £60,000 Covid-19 Museum Development Fund grant from Museums Galleries Scotland.

The project will explore the subject of healthcare in the Highlands, past and present, from poorhouses to the coronavirus pandemic.  Healthcare is a topic of special significance to our region as the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, launched in 1913, was the first integrated public health service in the world and a forerunner of the NHS.  Even today it is a particularly important issue as healthcare provision is vulnerable to the challenges of our low population, massive geography and variable climate.

The project will deliver a programme of community engagement as well as research and documentation, culminating in a temporary exhibition at Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG) in Spring 2022, then travelling to the Thurso Gallery and the North Coast Visitor Centre (NCVC) in Caithness, in Summer 2022.  The exhibition programme at IMAG is usually run by the Arts Team who are a separate, autonomous division to the museum service with a primary remit of contemporary art.  This will be the first exhibition curated by the Collections Team, rather than the Arts Team, in more than a decade.

The outputs of the grant will be / Aims of the project are:

  • to employ a Museum Assistant for 12 months
    • to provide capacity and support to the Collections Team by acting as project co-ordinator
    • to provide an entry level museum post as an opportunity in the Highlands for the postholder to gain valuable skills and experience that will help to establish a career in the sector
  • to develop skills and experience of staff and volunteers whilst also improving collections knowledge and relevance
  • to make new acquisitions for the museum collection, in particular relating to the pandemic but also other health issues and disabilities experienced by people across the region
  • to promote collaboration with other teams, museums, networks and organisations
  • to create an engagement programme exploring new activities and interpretation
  • to increase digital engagement and enhance web content
  • to proactively develop new audiences, with a focus on local communities across the region
  • to raise the profile of the collections and the museum
  • to produce an exhibition staged at IMAG followed by two sites in Thurso
  • to purchase new exhibition equipment and interpretation aids that can be reused in future exhibitions and displays
  • to undertake evaluation that will inform future projects, displays and activities
  • to share our experiences and examples of good practice with the wider sector

Image: Nurse Flora Ferguson, the first motorised District Nurse in the region, 1926.  Jack Lumsden Collection, Highland Archive Service, High Life Highland