#12 Highland Museum of Childhood

My name is Ann Carmichael and I would like to adopt the Highland Museum of Childhood.

Highland Museum of Childhood (Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Maxwell)

Highland Museum of Childhood (Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Maxwell)

Tell us a bit more about yourself

I have a house in the North of Scotland but the last 15 years has seen me move around the world wherever my husband’s job has taken us. This has left me with time to enjoy my embroidery and other crafts as well as visiting museums all over the world.

Tell us a bit more about your adopted museum
The museum is situated in the Victorian Station Building in the picturesque village of Strathpeffer, about 11miles west of Inverness, Scotland. The museum has a large display of dolls, toys, games and other childhood treasures. Displays also examine the culture, customs and folklore surrounding a child’s life in the Highlands in the C19th/20th .It is an accredited museum and a charitable trust. In exchange for museum services the local authority provides a minimum revenue grant, other projects are funded by grant bids. There is a full time curator/manager and at present a part time education officer. There is a nominal entrance fee and it is open daily April to October. It is open for groups by appointment at other times.

Why have you chosen to adopt this museum?
I have chosen this museum because having spent many hours there both as a visitor and as a volunteer (I am no longer involved with the museum), I feel it is a gem to be discovered. The staff all strive to offer a friendly welcome and it livens up their day when the rooms are full of chatter and children are having fun with the toys and dressing up clothes. In this day of electronic gadgets and little or no free time I think it is essential that children see what mum, granny and great granny played with, how they occupied their leisure time and find out for themselves the art of the whip and peerie or the gird and cleek. I loved playing with the toys alongside the kids showing off my prowess with the gird and cleek and watching them realise that it isn’t as easy as it looks and takes some dexterity to spin the peerie over the floor or roll the hoop along the platform.

Why would you recommend people visit?
This little museum is one of many in the Highlands of Scotland surviving against the odds. It is a lovely friendly museum with lots of things for children to do whilst the adults peruse the exhibitions and historical displays or watch the oral history film. I feel it is a museum that reaches out to all ages, I love all the information and the stories behind the dolls and toys on display and the annual exhibition is always well written often covering aspects of life one doesn’t see elsewhere. My mother loved reminiscing on toys she remembered and my children when they were young loved to play with the toy train and then the dressing up. It is set in a lovely area and the curator and her volunteers work very hard to be welcoming and provide an exciting visit. They have just completed a new education centre extension, the result of years of dedicated fundraising: a perfect space for school visits and the museum’s programme of children’s activities during the holidays.

How would you sum up your museum in three words?
Unique, fun, entertaining

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