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Health, Wealth and Happiness project

District nurse Flora Ferguson astride her motorbike.

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

Health, Wealth and Happiness is a year-long project exploring the fascinating subject of healthcare in the Highlands.  The project is run by the collections team at Inverness Museum and funded by a Covid-19 Museum Development Fund grant from Museums Galleries Scotland.

We’re examining both the past and present of health and wellbeing – from poorhouses and traditional remedies to the Covid-19 pandemic and modern medicine – and the unique challenges of providing medical assistance in a vast, rural landscape.

This is an exciting opportunity for us to explore a subject of special significance to the region. Just one of many areas we hope to highlight is the Highlands and Islands Medical Service (HIMS). Launched in 1913 as the world’s first integrated public health service, HIMS is recognised today as a forerunner of the NHS.

Find out more about the aims of the project here. 


Health, Wealth and Happiness exhibition

The project will culminate in an exhibition which will be held in 2022.  This exhibition, the first to be curated by our collections team in over a decade, will launch at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery on April 15th 2022.  In the summer it will travel to Caithness, showing concurrently at the Thurso Gallery and the North Coast Visitor Centre.

The exhibition will feature objects and artworks from the museum’s own collection, as well as items on loan from individuals and other museums across the region.


Well Wishes Postal Project

Well Wishes is a mindful craft activity based on the tradition of healing ‘Clootie Wells’.

Through our postal project, your ‘Well Wish’ will join others from across the Highlands in our Health, Wealth and Happiness exhibition.  We will then compost the wishes, reflecting the tying of cloths at healing wells – decay of the fabric represents fulfilment of the wish.

Our Well Wishes tree in the Community Gallery is laden with leaves from across Highland.  Thank you to those who have participated, and if you haven’t there is still time.

You can visit the museum and make your wish, Tuesday to Saturday 10 – 5, or if you are unable to visit we have a limited number of packs available to post – if you would like some for yourself, a school, care setting or community group in Highland, please contact [email protected]

You can return completed leaves to us or your local Highlife Highland Library, and they will be returned to the museum to add to our display. The display in Inverness runs to June 18th, and then will travel to the North Coast Visitor Centre in Thurso for July and August. You will also be able to make a Well Wish in person there. At the end of the exhibition the wishes will be composted, with the decay of the fabric representing fulfilment of the wish.

Find out more and view our tutorial video here.

How to get involved

We’re working with local communities to find out more about Highland experiences of healthcare.  Individuals, groups, and businesses are invited to get involved by recommending items, images, and stories to add to the medical collection and Collecting Covid archive at the museum.

You can suggest a donation by completing our healthcare surveys here.

Further information

For enquiries about the Health, Wealth and Happiness project, please contact Curator Kari Moodie at [email protected].

You can keep up-to-date with the progress of our project by following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.