Groam House Museum exists to inspire people of all backgrounds and ages to enjoy and understand its collections and develop associated skills. By working with others locally and nationally, we strive to conserve and bring to life the objects and their stories through related activities, arts and crafts.
With grants from bodies such as the National Lottery Heritage Fund (HF), Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS), (Association of Independent Museums) AIM, and Creative Scotland (CS) we have continued the long tradition of Groam House Museum of enabling local people to research and organise our annual exhibition, get involved in craft and art workshops, and learn new skills associated with the digitisation of the collections.
We’ve held very successful exhibitions including Crafting the Celtic: the legacy of George Bain, 50 years on and World War One – its impact on Rosemarkie, Fortrose and Avoch which brought just under 6,000 visitors.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM
In 1974 Mario Pagliari of Rosemarkie gifted Groam House, an 18th century building, to Fortrose Town Council. A few years later the District Council took responsibility for the building, to ensure that there would be a safe location for the Rosemarkie Pictish cross-slab, the iconic focus of the village and today’s museum.
By 1981 the building had been completely altered and the cross slab conserved and moved into the premises. Groam House was opened for the summer months, overseen by a local committee. The following year Betty Marshall was employed to welcome visitors. Pictish sculpted stones were moved from Rosemarkie Church so they could be displayed alongside the cross-slab. Committed to a long-term future for the museum, local people started to donate objects and photographs relating to this part of the Black Isle.
For more than ten years Betty Marshall ensured the growth of visitors and the collection, such that, in 1992 the Council agreed to enlarge the display space. A mezzanine floor was inserted and the much of today’s ground floor display created. Groam House became the Pictish Interpretation Centre for Ross & Cromarty.
Susan Seright joined the museum at this time, initially as an assistant, and became curator on Betty’s retirement. Major steps were taken over the following decade. The museum achieved registered status (now known as accreditation) which enabled the new Trust to apply for specific grants. Accolades for the most improved rural museum in the UK, and work on the conservation of items in the collection were awarded. Annual Academic Lectures were organised, focussing on aspects of Pictish studies. Exhibitions were developed on local themes and one of these was supported by the family of George Bain.
George Bain had studied the method of construction of Celtic Art between the two World Wars. After WW2, when he moved to Drumnadrochit, started to promote the establishment of a College of Celtic Cultures. This didn’t materialise but his fascination with these complex artistic forms continued. His drawings reflected the style of sculpture on display in Groam House and some were borrowed for the museum’s 1997 exhibition. Following this, the family felt the Groam House would be a fitting place for his archive, as well as his numerous other sketches and paintings unrelated to Pictish art.
A major Hertiage Lottery Fund grant was awarded in the mid-2000s and with grants from a number of sources, a major five year programme of outreach projects, exhibitions at various venues across Scotland and collection acquisitions was undertaken. Following on from Susan’s in-depth work and successes associated with the George Bain material, (she left in 2012), Groam House applied for and was awarded Recognition of the George Bain Collection as a Nationally Significant Collection (by Museum Galleries Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government).
Over the last 40 years the museum has thus developed three areas of collecting:
– Pictish stones from Rosemarkie and its environs
– Prehistoric, historic and local history items from this part of the Black Isle
– The George Bain Collection and related Celtic Art items
which it aims to share in imaginative ways with volunteers, members, visitors and a wider public via the engagement projects, exhibitions and digital media, while ensuring the long-term care of the collections.
Groam House is registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).
It is a very small independent museum managed by a Board of at least five trustees and run by volunteers with the assistance of, currently, two part-time members of staff who each work one day a week. The Board is advised by specialists who are invited to attend Board meetings regularly or on an ad hoc basis. An independent museum mentor (as required by UK Museum Accreditation Scheme also assesses the general competence of the museum at least twice a year.
Chairman – Doug Maclean
Treasurer – Paul Pritchard
Advisor: Helen Avenell
The museum is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation and its constitution can be downloaded here.