The amazing structure I visited in December 2019 is a combination of Art Gallery and Museum. A major redo from 2003 to 2006 opened up the space and allowed for the exhibiting of double the items from 4,000 to 8,000.
You definitely will find something to fascinate you! Let’s step inside this Victorian gem, first opened in 1901, and explore.
Come enter! These lovely doors lead right into the grand Centre Hall, with Glasgow Stories and Ancient Egypt galleries off to the left.
Here the center hall being readied with seating for the weekly pipe organ recital! This space is 125 feet long and 56 feet wide, which does not include the galleries and promenades that surround it.
As a visitor with a background in costume history and design, I found the new layout of the museum particularly useful. Prior to the renovation, the ground floor was the museum and the upper floor the art gallery. Now, most innovatively, each of the two main floors is half dedicated to “life” and half to “expression.” Individual galleries are themed, and within each theme the exhibits are set in context.
This is the best “museum” experience I’ve ever had. A museum/art gallery can be much more than exhibits labeled with name and date. Here you will find something visually interesting, but then learn why and how it is interesting, and how, most importantly, it fits into the time in which it was created and how that all relates to us today.
Examples below: since I teach Comparative Arts and discuss the Silk Road/Salt Road/Tea Road, however you want to label it, this was great to see.
Since we discuss the trade routes of Africa, these two examples are very applicable.
Continuing with the valuable insights I gained at the Kelvingrove:
My students in Race, Gender and Theatre discuss cultural identity and its loss.
The “life” side of the themed approach is Kelvingrove’s world renowned collections of stuffed or mounted fauna.
These range from superb butterflies all the way up to Sir Roger.
Sir Roger was an elephant who spent the 1890s with a travelling circus before retiring to a zoo in Glasgow. In 1900 he developed a hormonal disorder that made him very aggressive, and as a result dangerous. He was therefore shot one morning while eating his breakfast. He was put on display at Kelvingrove in 1901 and has stayed here ever since. Too large to move during the renovation of the museum, he was simply left in place, protected within a wooden box.
Sir Roger lives in the West Court, as does Kelvingrove’s second most famous resident, Spitfire LA198, which is suspended from the ceiling at first floor level. This aircraft flew with 602 (City of Glasgow) Auxiliary Squadron for two years after World War II before crash landing in 1949. It spent five years being beautifully restored at the Museum of Flight at East Fortune.
And again, the painting and the story behind it that brought me on this journey.
When you exit, your senses reeling with all you have seen, take a moment to appreciate the setting within Kelvingrove Park with its many pathways through botanical plantings. As you can see, plenty of room to spread out when the weather is nice, with the spires of the University of Glasgow in the background.