Six Highland museums will showcase their collections to global audiences after being chosen to participate in a collaboration between XpoNorth Digital, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s specialist digital support programme for the creative and heritage sectors, and Smartify, the world’s most downloaded museum app. 

Offering a digitised version of each museum’s exhibitions, along with a curated video recounting their stories, a multi-media tour and an e-shop, the Smartify app will allow smartphone users around the globe to engage with archives, artifacts, and memories from across Scotland’s north. 

The app’s innovative nature will help to bring the storied history of the Highlands and Islands into the light for a wider audience, allowing museums to improve accessibility and further optimise the possibilities offered in the digital era. 

The six museums participating in the initiative are Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Highlanders’ Museum; Cromarty Courthouse Museum; Clyne Heritage Society (Brora Heritage Centre), and Stromness Museum, Orkney.

The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery encompasses a range of displays celebrating Highland heritage in the region’s capital. 

Lorna Cruickshank, curatorial manager at the museum, said: “High Life Highland’s Inverness Museum & Art Gallery (IMAG) is delighted to have the opportunity to take part in the programme, as it will help our charity to extend the accessibility of our museum collections. Smartify will support the museum to meet the needs and expectations of an ever-changing audience; local people, international visitors, and those with access needs. The museum looks forward to working with the Smartify team to re-charge the museum’s interpretation and enable new and fresh stories to be told.”

Other museums involved in the initiative include Gairloch Museum, which focuses on the north-west area of the region and includes a replica croft house and archives focussing on the involvement of local residents in World War I. Meanwhile, the Highlanders’ Museum at Fort George will be featuring artefacts and documents relating to the Highland military, and the Cromarty Courthouse Museum will recount the harsh judicial processes that took place within the seaport’s eighteenth-century courthouse. Brora’s industrial past will be shared through the contributions of its Heritage Centre, while, moving further north still, Stromness Museum will showcase the Orkney archipelago’s extraordinary history, dating back to the Neolithic period and beyond. 

Janette Parker, curator at Stromness Museum, said: “The trustees and staff at Stromness Museum are delighted that we have been chosen to benefit from the opportunity to work with XpoNorth Digital and Smartify on this project. This will enable us to raise our profile and attract more visitors to share our amazing collections with.” 

The project has also facilitated the creation of a digital content creator role. Freya Samuel has been brought onboard the project to guide the museums through the process of digitising their content and marketing their offer, as well as providing support with creative content. 

Nicola Henderson, digital heritage specialist at XpoNorth Digital, added: “We’re incredibly excited to announce the list of successful museums taking part in this transformational new partnership. Our collaboration with Smartify is a great example of XpoNorth Digital’s commitment to supporting the sector to explore innovative new opportunities. With over three million users worldwide, Smartify offers a fantastic platform for connecting regional, national, and international audiences with the long and impressive biography of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.”