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What does Inverness Museum collect?

From ancient arrowheads to avante-garde artworks

We collect anything that can tell the story of the Highlands, including its environment and its people.  We represent the whole of the Highland region, all periods of time and items can come from anywhere in the world, providing they have a strong connection to the Highlands.  This means items can be made of any material and be any age.  In order to manage the collection we divide it into different categories…


  • Viking mount with zoomorphic design

    Zoomorphic mount in Viking, Insular or Urnes style. Found at Ardersier.

    assemblages – material that has been excavated and analysed by professional archaeologists

  • lithics (stone items) e.g. flint arrowheads, carved stone balls, polished stone axeheads
  • metalwork e.g. bronze axeheads, annular brooches, lead musket balls from Culloden
  • pottery e.g. Bronze Age beakers, grass-tempered pot sherds, medieval jugs


  • documents e.g. medieval charters, Jacobite letters, Eden Court Theatre programmes
  • family archives e.g. Inglis Papers, Kennedy Papers
  • photographs e.g. M.E.M. Donaldson collection, Joseph Cook Collection
  • postcards from places around the Highlands


Decorative art (artistic objects)

  • ceramics e.g. Aldourie Pottery terracotta garden pots, Highland studio ceramics
  • glass e.g. Caithness Glass, Jacobite drinking glasses
  • Jacobite artefacts e.g. Duleep Singh Collection, hidden portrait dice box
  • silver e.g. clan badges, Inverness silver, luckenbooths, quaichs, thistle cups
  • treen (decorative woodwork) e.g. snuff boxes, quaichs
  • also decorative metalwork, jewellery, and tartan-inspired items


Fine Art

  • miniature portraits e.g. Emilie May Bowerbank’s Jacobite collection
  • paintings e.g. Highland landscapes, portraits, abstract art, watercolours by William Glashan
  • prints and drawings e.g. Jacobite engravings, modern lithographs
  • sculptures e.g. busts and medallions by PreRaphaelite sculptor Alexander Munro, bronze statues by Gerald Laing, box sculptures by Will MacLean


Natural Sciences

  • botany (plants) e.g. Clark Herbarium, Ross Collection of lichens
  • geology (rocks, minerals and fossils) e.g.
  • zoology (animals) e.g. Macpherson Sporting Stores taxidermy, Stirling-Fairbairn Collection of birds eggs, James H. Rosie Collection of Caithness moths


Social history (any artefact that can tell the story of how people live and work)

  • architecture e.g. lock and keys, marriage lintels
  • childhood and education e.g.
  • civic history e.g. Inverness weights and measures
  • food and drink e.g. horn spoons, Mackenzie Lemonade bottles
  • furniture e.g. contents from Mrs Rollo’s house
  • leisure and entertainment e.g. gramophone records, Eden Court programmes, sports equipment
  • musical instruments e.g. bagpipes, chanters, fiddles, Alexander Grant Collection
  • tools and trades e.g. boat-building tools, measuring instruments



  • clothing e.g. wedding dresses, kilts, plaids, uniforms
  • clothing accessories e.g. buttons, fans, hats, shoes
  • flags and banners e.g. flags previously flown at Inverness Town House
  • household items e.g. bed linen, blankets, curtains, rugs
  • tartan e.g. commercial sample books, Meg MacDougal’s tartan archive, Provost McBean’s tartan sample book



  • edged weapons e.g. basket-hilted swords, dirks, sgian dubhs
  • firearms e.g. items worn as part of Highland dress such as Doon pistols and muskets (the museum does hold a firearms licence in order to keep guns and ammunition)
  • shields and armour e.g. targes
  • weapon accessories e.g. gun flints, powder horns and flasks