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Mixing culture and commercialism

It's the time of year when teachers like to combine some retail therapy with culture and education. Scotland's museums and art galleries provide good opportunities to mix all three: here is a selection of what is on offer.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, Castle Wynd, Inverness

Take your pick of three excellent shows covering ancient charters, needlework and prison life, all with a Highland bias.

A Hundred Years of Prison Life, running until December 30, has been prepared by staff at Porterfield Prison in Inverness and marks its centenary. You can find out how much a ball and chain really weigh.

Pen Strokes from the Past, running until January 7, is a fascinating exhibition of local charters held in the museum's collection, dating from the time of William I to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Embroidery 2002, running until January 3, features the work of more than 40 Highland crafts producers.

The work of others, particularly jewellers, is on sale in the gallery and museum shop, along with a wide range of goods from elsewhere. Extra special stock has been ordered in for Christmas, including toys and lots of stocking fillers.

More information, tel 01463 237114 Gallery of Modern Art Queen Street, Glasgow

Artists Susie Johnston and Rachel Mimiec were commissioned to create an exhibition for the gallery based on the 18th-century building's history. A leaflet accompanying the intriguing show,entitled Re(place), which runs until January 5, reveals theextensive research they undertook for the project. It includes a room decorated with hand-flockedwallpaper and a sculpture of wooden fruit crates filled withhollow, white porcelain pears.

The gallery shop has one of the most curious selections of gifts on sale in any gallery in Scotland and includes plastic handbags shaped like lacy corsets, fridge magnets declaring "Good Clothes Open All Doors" and feng shui lifestyle CDs.

More information, tel 0141 229 1996 Scottish National Portrait Gallery 1, Queen Street, Edinburgh

An exhibition examining the role of the individual Scots who have explored, recorded and conquered some of the highest peaks in the world is running until January 19. On Top of the World, which coincides with the United Nations Year of the Mountains 2002, features paintings, documents and breath-taking photographs.

The gallery shop specialises in Scottish gifts including books of historic images from the gallery's vast photographic archives.

More information, tel 0131 624 6200 Aberdeen Art Gallery Schoolhill, Aberdeen

The Glass Aquarium, running from tomorrow until February 8, features about 80 exquisite glass sea creatures made in the late 1800s by German craftsman Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolf. They produced thousands of incredibly detailed and delicate replicas, including the Portuguese man-of-war and marine worm, for museums and aquariums.

The change of embroidery from a craft to artform is illustrated in The Silken Thread, running until February 1. Pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries are on show.

The gallery shop is so good it has developed an independent reputation and is particularly known for its silk scarves and ties, jewellery and toys.

More information, tel 01224 523700

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