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Montrose Museum

photo of interior of Montrose museum

About the museum

In 1841 the Montrose Natural History and Antiquarian Society realised that its lodgings in part of one of the town’s schools was fast being outgrown by its collection of geology, natural history, ethnography, fine art and the hundreds of other items that might find themselves in a typical Victorian collection. A fund was begun, and the museum opened 1842 making it one of the first purpose built museums in Scotland.

The museum is designed to look like a true ‘temple of learning’, with Ionic columns on either side of the doorway and ‘museum’ written above the lintel in elegant gold relief. Inside the beautiful neo-classical building a series of displays are housed in the spacious atrium, mezzanine and galleries charting the life of the town and art of its people.

It is now part of Angus Council’s museum service and the displays and collection have evolved from the eclectic wonder-shop that it was in the nineteenth century whilst retaining the atmosphere of a traditional museum. It is now very firmly locked in the heart of the community.

The visitor moves through the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, to the decorated stones that are the remains of the Pictish civilisation of Circhen, now Angus. The life of the busy burgh is revealed, its trade, religion and industry including the famous Montrose Silver and Dryleys pottery. The collection also includes objects illustrating events in the broader history of Scotland; the Marquis of Montrose, his role as both a Covenanter and Royalist, the role of Montrose in the Jacobite uprising and the history of the local militia. The Maritime Gallery has a superb fleet of model shipping, scrimshaws, whalebone items, flensing tools, harpoons and other relics of the once thriving East Coast whaling industry.

The museum also houses an art gallery with a lively programme of changing exhibitions from the museum’s collection of paintings and sculptures by local artists such as William Lamb, Edward Baird and George Paul Chalmers, and from local community groups. There are also a series of afternoon talks, children’s activities and occasional evening events.

Overview of our collections

The museum holds significant Neolithic and bronze age artefacts, and from Montrose’s later history the collection includes examples of Montrose silver and Dryleys pottery. The collection also includes objects illustrating events in the broader history of Scotland; the Marquis of Montrose, his role as both a Covenanter and Royalist, the role of Montrose in the Jacobite uprising and the history of local militia. The Maritime Gallery has a superb fleet of model shipping, and scrimshaws, whalebone items, flensing tools, harpoons and other relics of the once thriving East coast whaling industry.

Highlights

  • Jacobite Ribbon - A good example of an 18th century garter worn under clothing as a secret expression of support to Prince Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobite cause.
photo of Jacobite Ribbon
  • Bone Ship - An early 19th century model ship made from bone strips and carved blocks of bone by French prisoners during the Napoleonic war
photo of Bone Ship
  • Inchbrayock Stone - This Pictish stone, elaborately carved with Christian imagery dates from around 850-950 AD.
photo of Inchbrayock Stone
  • Marquis of Montrose’s Sword - This magnificent 16th century sword is said to have belonged to the famous Royalist general James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, who was born in Montrose in 1612.
photo of Marquis of Montrose’s Sword
  • Model of ‘Fifie’ - A model of a ‘Fifie’ two-masted fishing vessel. Boats like this made up the bulk of the drift net fishing fleet which followed the shoals of herring around the coastline of Britain in the 19th century
photo of model of Fifie
  • Gold Snuff Box (1793) - Crafted by the Montrose goldsmith Benjamin Lumsden, this inscribed gold box was presented to Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville by a grateful Montrose Town Council as thanks for his hand in the abolition of a tax on Scottish Coal.
photo of Gold Snuff Box
  • Roman Finger Ring (c200AD) - A locally found small yet fascinating Roman ring. The ring has an agate set into a simple gold band.
photo of Roman Finger Ring
  • Fossil Fish - Found in Angus, this fossil fish is the remains of a once widespread prehistoric species. It has now been given the name Mesacanthus mitchelli (Egerton) after the Revd. Hugh Mitchell who found it at various locations in Angus.
photo of Fossil Fish
  • Scrimshaw - Carved into a whale’s tooth this piece is a particularly fine example of the art of Scrimshaw. It shows an image of a late 18th or early 19th century man-o-war.
photo of Scrimshaw
  • Lord Gray Agate Collection - This splendid collection of semi-precious agates were assembled by Lord Gray of Kinfauns, upon whose death the collection was purchased by Lord Panmure and the collection presented to Montrose Museum.
photo of Lord Gray Agate Collection

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© Angus Council 1998 - 2014

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