The 5 best Glasgow Museums
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Some of Glasgow’s most important museums began as the private collections of wealthy individuals, families or institutions of art, including a great number of rare or curious natural objects and artefacts that were donated to be shown to the public.
This has allowed Glasgow to be home to more than 20 world-class, galleries and exhibition spaces around the city, many of which are free to visit. These spaces have some of the finest collections in the world showcasing just how rich and diverse is this city’s cultural heritage.
From football, transport and fine art to fossils, technology and police uniforms, there is a huge variety of items that are exhibited in modest spaces or impressive public buildings.
Admire The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Designed by Sir John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen, this architectural masterpiece was opened as the Palace of Fine Arts for the Glasgow International Exhibition held in 1901. It is built of red sandstone, designed in Hispanic Baroque style.
The museum has 22 themed galleries displaying over 8000 objects around a Centre Hall with a concert pipe organ constructed and installed by Lewis & Co.
It has one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world, a vast number of outstanding European artworks, a selection of European jewellery from the 18-19th centuries and exponents of the Glasgow School of Art.
Two of the most famous items in the museum are a painting by Salvador Dali, “Christ of Saint John of the Cross”, and a restored Mark 21 Spitfire.
Red sandstone building.
Visit The Hunterian Museum
The University of Glasgow’s Hunterian includes various buildings on the main campus: The Hunterian Museum, The Hunterian Art Gallery with The Mackintosh House, The Zoology Museum, The Anatomy Museum and the recently renovated Kelvin Hall, where they are moving part of the collections.
Founded in 1807, The Hunterian is Scotland’s oldest public museum and was built in 1793 on the funding bequest to the University of the Scottish anatomist and scientist Dr William Hunter.
The initial collection has grown considerably, and now include works by artists such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as superb geological, zoological, anatomical, archaeological, ethnographic and scientific instrument collections or a gallery devoted to the Romans in Scotland.
Scotland’s oldest public museum.
See The Riverside Museum
The Riverside Museum building was designed by the world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid and engineers Buro Happold and opened in June 2011. The purpose was to replace the previous home for the city’s transport collection, at the Kelvin Hall.
Today, the fifth most popular attraction in Scotland is home to over 3,000 objects showcasing Glasgow’s transport heritage from its glorious maritime past to the early to mid 20th Century.
The selection of objects on display includes vintage cars, paintings, skateboards, bicycles, films, velocipedes, prams, voiturettes, a stormtrooper and one of the largest locomotives on display in Britain, designed and made in Glasgow.
Outside there is access to the tall ship Glenlee, a 1896 bulk cargo carrier and the UK’s only floating Clyde-built sailing ship.
Discover The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, set in the Glasgow Green, opened in 1898.
At the opening ceremony Lord Rosebery billed it as “a palace of pleasure and imagination around which the people may place their affections and which may give them a home on which their memory may rest” and declared the building “open to the people for ever and ever”.
Since the 1940s, this A-listed building it is a museum that explores the city’s social history of the people and the city of Glasgow from the 18th century to the present day through historic artefacts, exhibits depicting the past, prints, photographs, personal Glaswegians’ stories and paintings.
Attached to the People’s Palace is the elegant Victorian glasshouse -the Winter Gardens – filled with exotic palms and plants.
Social history of Glasgow.
Go to The Gallery of Modern Art, GOMA
Built in 1778 as the neo-classical townhouse of William Cunninghame of Lainshaw, a wealthy Glasgow tobacco baron, the building has undergone a series of different uses, such as part of the Royal Bank of Scotland or the telephone exchange, the Royal Exchange for over 100 years, or a library.
Reconverted again in 1996, the library till remains, but it is now the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), which has been the main gallery of contemporary art in Glasgow, offering a programme of temporary exhibitions and workshops and displaying work by local and international artists.
This A listed building is currently the most visited art gallery in Scotland.
It was the Royal Exchange for over 100 years.
An urban myth popular in Glasgow and related to the Kelvingrove Museum is that the building was built the wrong way round and when the architect realised what had happened, he committed suicide by leaping from one of the towers.
Fortunately, the tale is not true: The main entrance was always intended to face into the park, but nowadays most visitors enter from the rear entrance on Argyle Street. And the architects (Sir John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen) had a long and successful life.
Research led by SUZANNAH HENDERSON ׀
Date of the Research: 8-31 DECEMBER 2017 ׀
Publication date: 7 JANUARY 2018
Review date: 7 JANUARY 2019
Scope of the research & essential inclusion criteria:
|The museum currently exists.||The museum is currently open to the public.|
1 Number of pieces and collections.
2 Quality of the pieces and collections.
3 Number of masterpieces.
4 Number of world-class unique pieces.
5 Appeal of the pieces and collections.
6 Special exhibitions.
7 Originality of the pieces and collections.
8 Variety of the pieces and collections.
9 Number of visitors.
Premium Validation criteria:
10 Ease for visitors to understand what is displayed.
11 Friendly to visitors.
12 Meeting place for the community.
13 Visitors engage with their senses.
14 Longevity of the museum.
15 Originality and uniqueness of the museum topic.
16 Condition of the pieces.
17 Beauty of the building.
18 Beauty and appeal of the environment.
19 Uniqueness of the environment.
21 Visit adaptation and activities for children.
22 Accessibility and visit adaptation for disabled persons.
23 Variety and appeal of events.
24 Admission price / Free entry / Concessions.
25 Membership options and benefits.
26 Information in different languages.
27 Audio guides.
28 Museum tours and guides.
29 Quality of the museum website.
30 Information about objects and collections in the museum website.
31 Condition of the facilities.
32 Other features.