Scottish Tartans Museum
The Scottish Tartans
Museum is a non-profit organisation, governed by a volunteer
Board of Trustees, dedicated to the history and traditions of
Scottish Highland Dress.
The museum was founded by The Scottish Tartans Society (STS),
which was established in Scotland in 1963 to maintain a worldwide
membership and museums in Scotland and abroad, to create and
maintain the Register of All Publicly Known Tartans, encourage
research into Highland Dress, and to provide a design service for
The Scottish Tartans Museum was established in the United States
by the STS to be a center for reliable information on Scottish
Highland Dress traditions for the large Scottish-American heritage
community. Originally established in Highlands, NC, in 1988, the
museum was relocated to Franklin, NC, in 1994 where it has since
educated about tartan and Highland Dress as well as served as a
general Scottish Heritage Center for the region.
The STS no longer exists as an organization, but the Scottish
Tartans Museum it established in the USA continues to work hard to
promote the cloth that has become so iconic of Scotland's cultural
identity. The museum continues to maintain close ties with tartan
resources in Scotland, largely through a friendship with the
Scottish Tartans Authority.
The Scottish Tartans Museum is open year-round, six days a week
(except for major holidays). The gallery is regularly visited by
school groups, researchers, families and interested individuals.
Volunteers are often available to provide guided tours, and staff
is always on hand to answer questions and help with basic tartan
The museum gallery features kilts dating back to c. 1800, and
tartan specimens to c. 1725. Over 500 tartan samples are on
display, including tartans for clans, families, districts, and
various organizations. As Scottish Tartans Authority members, the
museum has computer access to thousands of unique tartan designs,
both historic and modern, included in the International Tartan
Museum staff and volunteers are routinely invited into area
schools, from elementary school to the university, to give
presentations on Scottish heritage and Highland dress.
Staff and volunteers also attend a number of regional Scottish
Festivals and Highland Games throughout the year to provide a
tartan information service to festival visitors. So if you are
attending a festival in the southeastern US, be on the lookout for
the Scottish Tartans Museum tent!
When the museum first opened in Highlands in 1988 it consisted of
a small gallery, no gift shop, and relied upon donations and
volunteers. When it moved to Franklin in 1994 it had a larger
gallery, a small gift shop, and thanks to some financial support
from the town, could hire full time staff.
The financial support the museum received from the town was on a
decreasing scale (receiving less every year), and within a few
years the museum was well on its way to financial
In 1999 the museum moved out of the town building it was housed in
(which is now the site of Town Hall) and into its current location,
an historic building at 86 E Main St. This location provided a
larger museum gallery, and a much larger gift shop area, which the
museum has since expanded even further.
The general operating budget for the museum has for some time been
generated entirely from gift shop sales. Purchases made in our
store and on line allow the museum to continue to function and
provide education about the Scottish Highland dress
However, gift shop revenue does not allow for the funding of
special projects, and so for those we must seek after grants and
donations. We are currently seeking donations to help underwrite a
complete renovation of our museum gallery, which is long overdue.
It is a major undertaking.
You can find out more about the STA's plans for a National Tartan Centre in