THE NEWLY refurbished Inverness Museum and Art Gallery opens to the public tomorrow (January 13) with a major exhibition to coincide with the Highland 2007 cultural festival (see pages 12-13).

"Fonn 's Duthchas: Land and Legacy" is a collaborative project involving Scotland's national museums, galleries and library. It uses words, pictures and objects to tell the story of Highland cultural life, past and present.

The exhibition is divided into 10 subject areas that explore topics such as storytelling and language; the effect of the landscape on people, industry and infrastructure; and how technology has revolutionised today's Highland communities.

"Fonn 's Duthchas" also looks at how land ownership has changed over the centuries; the history of famous battles and the reasons for fluctuations in the Highland population.

Among the national treasures on display are a manuscript of Rob Roy and a 15 cm sporran clasp with four concealed pistols, that is said to have been viewed by Sir Walter Scott who was later inspired to give a similar device to his most famous fictional hero.

Other objects include the French edition of the Gaelic epic poem Ossian, which belonged to Napoleon; a quaich given to Flora MacDonald by Bonnie Prince Charlie; a diary written on a pack of playing cards by an army officer during the Battle of Culloden; and, bringing the show right up to date, a guide to text messaging in Gaelic.

"Fonn 's Duthchas" runs in Inverness until March 17 when it will go on tour to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum from April 6 to June 10; the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from June 29 to September 2 and Museum nan Eilean in Stornoway from September 21 to December 1.

A compact, related show, Duthchas: Legacy, concentrates on present-day Highland life and has been created to tour a variety of smaller, harder-to-reach venues in the region.

The exhibition is supported by an educational website which explores the themes and objects that feature in the show, using a variety of games and learning materials.

* www.fonnisduthchas.com

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