An extensive treasure trove of Indian art collected by a Stornoway army engineer
during the early days of the British Empire will be staged this summer.
The ‘Mackenzie Collection’ is the oldest and largest collection of ancient South
Asian art collected by Colin Mackenzie.
Mackenzie was born in the town in 1754 and became an army officer in the East India
Company. He rose to become surveyor general of India, travelling the subcontinent
and building an extraordinary collection of objects.
He gathered a remarkable range of material, including beautiful figures intricately
carved in stone and thousands of drawings and sketches from across India and Java
depicting ancient monuments, people and customs, maps, coins. He also acquired ancient
and precious palm leaf manuscripts.
Much of Mackenzie’s possessions were purchased by the India Office Library upon his
death and are now in the care of national institutions.
An Lanntair has received £59,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to stage the
Collector Extraordinaire - the first ever exhibition of his collection.
Items will be on loan from the British Museum, The British Library and the V&A, and
exhibited at Museum nan Eilean at Lews Castle.
Nick Smith, heritage manager at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “It is extraordinary
to think that this important collection has never been shown in Stornoway, Colin
Mackenzie’s home town.
“We now have the opportunity to bring some of this collection to Stornoway for the
enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.”
Stornoway man’s collection of historic Indian art collection to be displayed