Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Written by Chris Thornton | 17th of September 2023
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

If you plan a trip to Inverness, Scotland, you won't want to miss the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. This unique museum combines fine art with historical and natural artefacts to give visitors a complete picture of Inverness and the north of Scotland's complex history. In addition, the museum celebrates Highland life and heritage with a fascinating range of artefacts and collections.

My wife Janette and I visited Inverness Museum in mid-March of this year after a lovely visit to Inverness Botanical Gardens and taking the Ness Islands walk into the centre of Inverness. Scotland's most northerly city gives off great vibes, and a walk along the River Ness is recommended if you visit taking in views of Inverness Castle.

Inverness Castle
Inverness Castle is directly next to Inverness Museum.
 
Inverness Castle from River Ness.
Inverness Castle as seen from the River Ness.

The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is a must-visit attraction. With its unique combination of art and artefacts, the museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the culture and heritage of the Scottish Highlands.

Our visit to Inverness Museum

Believe it or not, neither of us had ever visited this brilliant museum. I didn't know it existed despite visiting Inverness many times throughout my life. It is a little tucked away around a corner and doesn't immediately jump out to you as a place to visit and discover the wonders it contains. To be honest, the exterior could do with a little TLC, but don't let it put you off visiting.

Inverness Museum street location.
The museum is hidden up this side street from the High Street.

Entering the building, we were greeted by a polite young man who explained the museum layout and that there was no entrance fee but pointed out the donation boxes if we wished to use them.

Museum Ground floor

We decided to go the most obvious route and first explore the ground floor section.

The permanent exhibitions on this floor cover a wide range of topics, including the region's geology and the Picts' history. One of the most interesting exhibits is the Pictish stone collection, which features original stones created by Pictish artists over 1,000 years ago. Visitors can also explore the region's geological history, with exhibits showcasing the rocks and minerals that make up the Highlands.

Discover thee unique history of the Scottish Highlands.
The geology exhibit shows many of the rock types from around Scotland.
 
Geology exhibit. Highland landscapes.
More from the geology exhibit.

The museum also has a collection of fossils, which provide insight into the prehistoric creatures that once roamed the area. The permanent exhibitions are well-curated and provide visitors with a comprehensive overview of the early history of Scotland.

The central ground floor area was my favourite, with the collection of carved Pictish stones. Other displays included:

  • Stone axe heads

  • Arrowheads

  • Neolithic pottery

  • Medieval coins

  • Wildlife displays

The vast array of ancient objects here is just amazing; I was keen to see what was on the 1st floor above us; how could it get better than this?

Mesolithic exhibit.
The early history of the first people in Scotland.
 
Mesolithic stone arrow heads and axes.
Stone axes and arrow heads made from flint and quartz.
 
Stone age pottery.
Some very early pottery found in Scotland.
 
Microscope.
Janette checking out the interactive microscope exhibit.
 
Stone age axe heads.
Some incredibly old axe heads dating from almost 4500 years ago.
 
Carved Pictish stones.
The Pictish carved stone exhibit was my favourite part of the museum.
 
Pictish stones collection.
More Pictish stones.
 
Inverness Museum exhibits.
No space is wasted in this museum, there is something interesting to read on every wall.
 
Medieval coins.
This medieval coin hoard discovered in Belladrum dates from the 1300s.
 
The main exhibit on the ground floor showing many ancient artefacts.
The central ground floor exhibit.

Museum First Floor

Climbing up the stairs to the first floor, a Gaelic tree alphabet shows trees in Scottish Gaelic and English. It's very interesting so don't rush up the stairs! Note that a lift near the main entrance can take disabled visitors to the 1st floor.

Gaelic tree alphabet
Gaelic tree alphabet
 
Gaelic tree alphabet on the stairs to the first floor.
It's worth taking some time to read these murals.

The main exhibition on the first floor is dedicated to more recent history, around the last 300 years or so. There are many interesting objects in this area, including sculptures, highland clothing (both men's and women's), weapons, bagpipes and old coins.

One particularly interesting item is a jacket said to have been worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Exhibit and art gallery.
The first floor exhibit can be accessed to the left, or the art gallery to the right.
 
Highland weaponry.
Swords, dirks, sporrans and musket balls.
 
Jacobite memorabilia
Bagpipes
 
A Scottish ladies dress.
A fine ladies dress.
 
A pair of flintlock pistols.
A stunning brace of flintlock pistols, wow.
 
Swords, shields and pistols.
More weaponry from Scottish history.
 
Inverness Museum presentation cases.
The artefacts are beautifully presented.
 
Scottish artefacts at Inverness Museum.
There is so much to see in this museum.
 
Historic Stuart portraits donated by the family of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh
Well kept exhibitions.
 
Celebrate Highland life in Inverness shire
A section containing musical instruments and ladies dresses.
 
Inverness Museum statue
Exhibition with a slightly rude statue in the centre!
 
Prince Charles Edward Stuart jacket.
A fine jacket which may have been worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Art Gallery

In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions showcase the work of local artists and crafters, as well as work from artists further afield. The temporary exhibitions constantly change, so visitors can expect to see something new and exciting every time they visit.

Art gallery Inverness Museum
Inverness Art Gallery

We visited the art exhibition by Mark Lomax, named "Lost Threads and Severed Ties". Each art piece consisted of small squares stitched together; my favourite is in the image below.

Exhibitions change regularly. Art galleries.
An art piece by Mark Lomax.

Some of the past temporary exhibitions have included contemporary art installations, photography exhibitions, and displays of traditional Highland crafts. The museum also hosts events and workshops to accompany the temporary exhibitions, allowing visitors to learn more about the artists and their work.

History of Inverness Museum

Managed by High Life Highland on behalf of Highland Council, admission to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is completely free.

The museum opened in 1881, initially as a Highland and Jacobite collection, and has since undergone several renovations and expansions during its operational lifetime, notably in 1963, 1982 and 2006.

The museum's collection focuses on the history and culture of the Scottish Highlands, with exhibits ranging from prehistoric artefacts to contemporary art. Visitors can explore the fascinating range of artefacts and collections celebrating Highland life and heritage.

Inverness view. Local museums.
The view from the museum looking out to Inverness.

Visitor Information

Opening Hours

The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm but opens an hour earlier in summer. The museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Visitors are advised to check the museum's website for any changes in opening hours before planning their visit.

How to get to Inverness Museum

The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is located on Castle Wynd in the heart of Inverness. The museum is easily accessible by public transport. It is within walking distance of many of the city's main attractions, including Inverness Castle, the River Ness, Inverness Cathedral and the main shopping areas of this vibrant city.

Address:

Castle Wynd
Inverness
Highland
Inverness
IV2 3EB

What3words: ///nail.rock.harp
Google maps location

Museum website

Museum Parking

There is no dedicated car park for the museum; however, there are a few disabled parking bays available on a first-come basis. Paid parking is available in multi-storey car parks at Castle Street or Rose Street/East Gate Shopping Centre.

Hot tip: If you enjoy a walk, I would recommend parking for free at Inverness Leisure Centre and walking via Ness Islands and riverside to get to the museum.

Admission Fees

Admission to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is free of charge for all visitors; they are very deserving of a donation though!

Facilities

The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery offer a range of facilities to make visitors' experiences comfortable and enjoyable. The museum has a cafe on-site offering a variety of refreshments and light snacks. The museum also has a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs and gifts related to the museum's exhibits and collections. The toilets are located at the gift shop too. The museum is fully accessible for visitors with disabilities, and accessible parking is available nearby.

Inverness Museum Cafe
The small museum cafe.
 
View of the cafe and gift shop.
Gift shop and cafe.
 
The items available at Inverness Museum gift shop.
Many educational items are available.
 
Inverness Museum gift shop.
The gift shop.

Events and Activities

The museum regularly holds exhibitions and events; its official website is the best place to find out what's on.

FAQs on Inverness Museum

Here are some frequently asked questions about Inverness Museum.

What can I see in Inverness Museum?

Everything from rock formations, stone age tools, Pictish stones, swords, pistols, and sculptures. There is much to see, with some fascinating artefacts on display. Regular art displays are also on offer.

Is Inverness Museum suitable for disabled visitors?

Yes, both exhibition areas are on one level and completely accessible. A lift near the entrance will take you to the next floor.

Is the museum suitable for children?

It is, but this museum has fewer interactive items than others; it's more of a showcase of history than a "science centre" museum. I think my kids may have been a little bored if they had come with us, as they would not be able to interact as much, and they wouldn't understand the significance of the fantastic items before them.

Where can I park for Inverness Museum?

The Eastgate Shopping Centre multi-storey car park is probably the easiest if you are travelling into Inverness by car, and it will cost £3.30 for four hours.

For free parking, you can park at the leisure centre (a reasonable distance away) and take the lovely walk via Ness Islands and alongside the River Ness to the museum. This is what we did, and it's an excellent walk in fine weather.

The River Ness
A walk along the banks of the River Ness.

Key information on Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

  • One of the best museums in the north of Scotland.

  • Managed by High Life Highland.

  • Free entry but donations are welcome.

  • The ground floor is early Scottish geology and natural history, while the upstairs is more recent.

  • The museum art gallery hosts regular exhibitions.

  • No dedicated parking, but some spaces are available for disabled visitors.

  • The museum provides a range of facilities, including a café, a gift shop, and toilets, and is fully accessible for visitors with disabilities.

  • Kari Moodie is the museum curator.

Conclusion

Visiting the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is a must-do for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Highlands. With its impressive collection of artefacts, artworks, and interactive exhibits, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the region's ancient and more recent past.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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