Six museums from across the Highlands and Islands launch new experiences on Smartify!

Six museums from across the Highlands and Islands launch new experiences on Smartify!

From uncovering Cromarty’s historic links to the Transatlantic slave trade to following a blue plaque walking tour revealing the individuals that made Stromness the town it is today, an incredible range of unique Highland history is now available worldwide.

Made possible thanks to a unique partnership between XpoNorth Digital, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s specialist digital support programme for the creative and heritage sectors, and Smartify, the world’s most downloaded museum app, six Highland museums are now live on the global stage.

They are Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Highlanders’ Museum; Cromarty Courthouse Museum; Clyne Heritage Society (Brora Heritage Centre), and Stromness Museum, Orkney.

Selected earlier this year to take part in the initiative, the chosen six have been busy preparing to digitise either parts of their collection or unique experiences since then. The process has transformed their ability to use digital tools and is also expected to result in employment opportunities and increased income generation in the future.

Now, after six months and an incredible effort from local teams and partners, audiences around the world can access the treasure trove of their offering through the Smartify app, and engage with archives, artifacts, tours and memories from across Scotland’s north.

These include the opportunity to explore Cromarty Courthouse Museum’s Building on Slavery walking tour, with the help of an audio guide that takes visitors around Cromarty and uncovers the town’s historic links to the Transatlantic slave trade, featuring authors David Alston and Nicole Bontemps. Visit Cromarty Courthouse Museum on Smartify here.

Those interested in tracing the lives of the individuals and stories that defined the town of Stromness will be able to enjoy Stromness Museum’s ‘Blue Plaque’ walking tour, following it to discover local buildings and the people who lived in them. Surgeon John Rae, for example, is put under the spotlight as a prolific explorer who navigated the Arctic in the 1800s, while poet and dramatist George Mackay Brown is featured as an eminent writer whose work was distinctly Orcadian in character.

Gareth Squire, Administrator at Stromness Museum said: “The opportunity to bring the stories associated with our collections to a worldwide audience and the ability for Smartify users to enrich their visit using the app, will help raise the Museum’s profile as a ‘must visit’ destination in the Highlands and Islands. The unique ability to engage with our audience with the Blue Plaque Trail through Stromness, which links directly to our collections, is a further positive benefit to our integration with the app and it is hoped this will further increase our visitor numbers and profile”. Visit Stromness Museum on Smartify here.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders’ Museum has shone a light on their collection’s little discussed colonial past by producing a ‘Hidden Histories’ audio guide. Freya Samuel, Digital Engagement Curator at the Highlanders’ Museum, said: “For small, independent museums, physical space can be a limitation which impacts the stories that we are able to tell. Smartify lets us share extra content in a really seamless and accessible way, and it’s also easy to create and share new content, that encourages our visitors to come back again and again. Highland history is now being showcased alongside a world-class selection of museums, and is given an equal presence on the platform. The app really champions small museums and values the stories they have to tell, and we’re excited about sharing our heritage with the world.” Visit The Highlanders’ Museum on Smartify here.

Visitors can also use an audio guide to delve into the eclectic local collection at Brora Heritage Centre, which has showcased their highlights ranging from mining tools and medals to ice skates and bricks. Visit Brora Heritage Centre on Smartify here.

Gairloch Museum has produced a series of ten mini videos that will be showcased on the Smartify platform and shared on social media, that tell the story of the local landscape and its connection to the museum. Visit Gairloch Museum on Smartify here.

An unmissable experience has also been created by Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, who have developed an audio tour to guide visitors around the star objects of the collection including ‘rondello’, a round fiddle invented by Highland-born musician Alexander Grant. Visit Inverness Museum and Art Gallery on Smartify here.

Nicola Henderson, Digital Heritage Specialist at XpoNorth Digital, added: “Months of hard work on the part of the six museums involved has culminated in a milestone moment as the museums’ offerings go live. This partnership with Smartify is not only an example of XpoNorth Digital’s commitment to facilitating innovative ways of working for creative organisations in the region, but also demonstrates the huge potential of digital methods, in terms of both amplifying the area’s history around the globe but also forming networks closer to home. Smartify will help the region’s museums to unravel further layers of the stories held within their collections and give them a newfound appeal to audiences both new and old.”

Thanos Kokkiniotis, Director and Co-Founder of Smartify said: “We are delighted to be working with XpoNorth Digital and the museums on this important and ground-breaking project. One of the reasons we started Smartify was to make the kinds of digital tools that were once previously only available to the very biggest institutions accessible for all. It’s great to see that happening here in Scotland with organisations that are so passionate about Scottish heritage and culture.”

Smartify is available on iOS and Android from the App Store and Google Play respectively. It’s also available on the web via For more information on XpoNorth Digital’s work to support creative businesses in the Highlands and Islands, visit



Museum and heritage representatives will gather in Inverness for our first Highland Heritage Conference. Sealladh will take place at Inverness Creative Academy on the 20th – 21st April, 2023.  

The conference will focus on issues impacting our heritage sector. Alongside presentations by delegates from across the Highlands, speakers from national organisations Museums and Galleries Scotland, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Museums Association will share invaluable insights into resourcing our heritage and empowering our workforce. 

Anyone who works or volunteers in the heritage sector is welcome to attend.

The event is organised by Museums and Heritage Highland, a charity formed in 2019 to promote collaborative working and provide a supportive voice for the Highland heritage sector. It is supported through the Museums Galleries Scotland Forums Fund project and is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players. The event is further supported by Smartify, the world’s most downloaded museum app, and Highland Tourism CIC, who are working with the sector to create a world-leading sustainable destination and premium environmental tourism brand.

Nicola Henderson, Museums and Heritage Highlands Digital Innovation and Network Manager, said:

“The conference schedule is packed with sessions focusing on innovation and digital skills, managing capital projects, caring for collections and fundraising. There are also discussions around tourism in the Highlands underpinned by rich heritage as well as well-being in museums.

“The first session will be a fun ice breaker, where we will learn more about the diversity of skills in the sector, the professional needs of our heritage colleagues and how we bring those two together. We are planning a ‘Pecha Kucha’ inviting delegates to present a project and discuss how they have responded to the demands of the last few years. We will also discuss complex issues such as the decolonisation of museums and how we ensure our collections are accessible and representative of all society today.”

“The event is an opportunity to discuss and develop plans for the future of our heritage sector. That’s where the event name came from, Sealladh, meaning perspective or view in Gaelic.”

Helen Avenell, Museums and Heritage Highlands Projects and Partnerships Manager, added:

“Our network of museums, galleries and heritage organisations reaches from Strathnaver on the North coast to Gairloch, Granton and Glencoe. Over the past few years, we have held regular online meet-ups, this is the first conference we have organised. We are excited to see our colleagues from across the Highlands in person and looking forward to meeting new members. I encourage anyone working or volunteering in museums or heritage organisations to come along.

“Although we are a Highland-based organisation, many topics we will focus on are relevant to every heritage organisation. We hope to attract heritage delegates from beyond the Highland region to Inverness for this event.”

There will be a screening of Dùthchas – Home, a touching and emotive exploration of what it meant, and still means, to people, especially women, to have to leave the island of their birth to get an education, work, and live. In this, the third documentary feature film ever to be made in Gaelic, Co-directors Kirsty MacDonald (Comas Creative) and Andy Mackinnon (UistFilm) explore the effect this movement had on the Gaelic language and culture of the Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides.

Sealladh – Highland Heritage Conference, takes place 20th and 21st April, 2023 in Inverness. Programme info and tickets are available via Eventbrite

More information on our sponsors:

Highland Tourism CIC

Together we will create a world-leading premium environmental tourism brand. With communities, our ambassadors and partners, we will build on the Highlands’ natural, historic and cultural assets and showcase them to the world. We will work in partnership with stakeholders across all sectors to create a dynamic environment in which tourism businesses and their communities are supported and encouraged to become conscious hosts, ready to deliver the exceptional, immersive and authentic experiences that the growing conscious tourism market is now seeking. Ultimately, we will leverage this vision of a sustainable, wellbeing destination to position The Highlands as one of the world’s most inspiring and welcoming places to live, work, visit, study and invest.


Smartify connects people to art. Trusted by cultural organisations around the world; we entertain, enliven and enrich audiences.  Because when we’re inspired, we’re unstoppable. 

Smartify’s innovative technology and engaging storytelling makes cultural heritage accessible for a global audience. Our expert creative team delivers the best mobile experiences with highly engaging stories through audio, video and podcasts. Smartify productions are contemporary, thoughtful and entertaining.

More than 2 million artworks from the world’s greatest museums have been scanned on the platform, accessed by more than 3 million registered users through state-of-the-art object recognition, digital wayfinding and augmented reality. That, combined with speed, reliability and depth, makes Smartify the world’s most successful museum application.

More information on the film Dùthchas – Home 

Opportunity for museums to experiment with Smartify!

Jim Dunn photographing a gansey from Wick Heritage Centre

XpoNorth reveals groundbreaking partnership with Smartify to give global reach to Highlands and Islands museums

Museums in the Highlands and Islands will be given a unique opportunity to showcase their incredible collections on the global stage, as XpoNorth Digital announces a groundbreaking partnership with Smartify.

This transformative opportunity will give five museums in the region the chance to feature on the world’s most downloaded museum app and tell their story to audiences all over the planet, with support from a digital content creator to help them pull together the content they need.

As part of the project, each museum will have their venue listed on the Smartify platform, which enables cultural attractions of any size to offer a slick, accessible smartphone-led experience to every visitor. Their collection, which can range from 10s to 100s of objects, will be digitised and uploaded, along with a five minute curated video telling their story, a multi-media tour, the opportunity to create an e-shop and all the data and support needed to ensure they get the most from the opportunity.

XpoNorth Digital, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s mechanisms for specialist digital support for creative and heritage networks based across the Highlands and Islands, believes the partnership is a revolutionary one that has the power to elevate the global status of regional museums exponentially.

Nicola Henderson, XpoNorth Specialist Advisor for Heritage said: “Smartify has over three million users across the world. That’s three million people who love museums; who love history, who love art. Helping Highland museums to get on the platform and tell their stories to a targeted audience of this size could be transformational.

“The Smartify platform gives museums the tools they need to build new experiences within their buildings for their physical visitors, while also helping them to reach out to new audiences. It will help to drive engagement with their collections and stories, while offering opportunities to generate revenue from a global audience. I’m really excited to work with museums of all sizes from anywhere in the Highlands or Islands to explore what this partnership could mean for their organisation.”

Christopher Bazley, Smartify’s Head of Global Partnerships said: “Smartify’s commitment to making world-class digital engagement affordable and accessible to as many museums as possible is part of our DNA. As part of our ongoing commitment to supporting the Highlands and Islands and its globally significant cultural heritage, we are delighted, honoured and excited to have the opportunity of working with XpoNorth on this important project.”

This opportunity is open to any museum based in the Highlands and Islands and participants will be selected through an open application process delivered in collaboration with XpoNorth, Smartify and stakeholder networks.

XpoNorth will be running two dedicated online information sessions in partnership with Smartify to allow museums to gain more information on the opportunity and ask any questions ahead of making an application. These will take place on October 19 and November 16. The application window will close at 5pm on Friday 2nd December.

Email for more information or register for the events here:

Wednesday 19th October: 2pm-3pm
Information Session: Smartify Opportunity for Highlands and Islands Museums

Register here

– Wednesday 16th November: 2pm-3pm
Information Session: Smartify Opportunity for Highlands and Islands Museums

Register here