Collector Extraordinaire: The Mackenzie Collection Exhibition, Museum nan Eilean, Lews Castle Grounds, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis HS2 0XS August 12-November 18

Some significant historical figures slip through the net when it comes to establishing a lasting legacy. In the case of Colonel Colin Mackenzie, a Lewis man whose career trajectory took him from lowly customs officer at Stornoway Harbour to being the first person ever to hold the position of Surveyor General of India, it has taken almost two hundred years for posterity to catch up with his importance.

Possibly, in Mackenzie's case, it was native shyness at blowing his own trumpet which meant his importance was not logged in his lifetime, but whatever it was, his name is becoming better known thanks to a concerted team effort being led by interested parties on the isle of Lewis.

Collector Extraordinaire, which opens tomorrow (Sat Aug 12) at the new Museum nan Eilean, in the grounds of Lews Castle Grounds, Stornoway, presents a snapshot of Mackenzie's vast collection of South Asian art and antiquities. All the objects he collected, ranging from coins to monumental sculpture, are now held between London and India, in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Chennai Government Museum, the Indian Museum Kolkata and the National Museum of India, Delhi.

The Mackenzie Collection is a massive historical snapshot about the people and places in Asia Mackenzie, was born in 1753, encountered two centuries ago. A mix of soldier, explorer, engineer, cartographer, polymath, and collector, through private research, his documentation is one of the most extensive historical research endeavour ever carried out on Ancient India art and culture.

Mackenzie died in Calcutta in 1821 before he was able to sort, analyse and present his collection, which comprises a range of material, including intricately carved stone figures, thousands of drawings and sketches from across India and Java depicting ancient monuments, people and customs, maps, coins, and ancient precious palm leaf manuscripts.

In this first ever curated exhibition of his collection, loans from the British Museum, The British Library and the V&A, ensure a 21st century audience will start to appreciate the significant impact this shy Lewis man made on understanding the history of South Asia.

Collector Extraordinaire provides the centrepiece of Purvai 2017, a festival presented by Lewis-based arts centre, An Lanntair, devoted to the links between the Western Isles of Scotland and India.