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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 was a year-long project exploring the fascinating subject of healthcare in the Highlands.  The project was run by the collections team at Inverness Museum and funded by a Covid-19 Museum Development Fund grant from Museums Galleries Scotland.  The project was recently acclaimed by Museums Galleries Scotland as an example of Best Practice.

We examined 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 was 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 culminated in an exhibition which was held in 2022.  This exhibition, the first to be curated by our collections team in over a decade, was launched at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery on April 15th 2022.   In the summer it travelled to Caithness, and was on display concurrently at the Thurso Gallery and the North Coast Visitor Centre.

The exhibition featured 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

As part of our recent Health, Wealth and Happiness exhibition we ran the Well Wishes engagement project; a mindful craft activity based on the tradition of healing Clootie Wells.  People across Highland made wishes on paper leaves and created a cotton braid.  845 wishes have now been composted at Inverness Botanic Gardens and have gone to the Highland Folk Museum, where a hazel tree has been planted, and will be nourished by the compost.  With the return to the earth, the ‘wishes’ will assist new growth and life, completing their cycle.  In the tradition of Clootie Wells, as the ‘cloot’ (cloth) decomposed, so too should the ailment of the wishmaker disappear.


Please click below to access ‘Thinglink’, and take a look at this acclaimed exhibition online:


Further information

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

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