As a museum studies student, I am excited to visit as many of Glasgow’s museums as I can! So far I’ve been to five of them with still a few to see. Oh and the best part about museums here? They’re all FREE!
I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time at this small museum in the City Centre but I’m glad I was able to pop in for a moment. It was designed by Scotland’s famous Charles Rennie Macintosh, who has several other museums dedicated to his life’s work. The Lighthouse features a number of galleries that emphasize architecture along with other contemporary art. However the highlight is the lighthouse tower (which doesn’t actually have a light at the top), which visitors can climb for a magnificent view of the city which you can see in the lovely cover photo on my homepage! The winding stairs up the lighthouse tower
Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis
On the same day in the City Centre, I visited the enormous Glasgow Cathedral the massive cemetery next to it. Not sure if these quite qualify as museums, but I definitely think so. The Cathedral is a beautiful piece of medieval architecture that originated in the 1100’s with a surprising amount of the original structure still surviving. For many years it served as a pilgrimage site, being the burial place of Glasgow’s patron saint, St. Kentigern, also called St. Mungo (nope, it’s not a name J.K. Rowling made up). While the cathedral is open to the public to tour, it also is still an active church, holding daily and Sunday services.
Touring the cathedral was beautiful, but I really enjoyed walking through the Necropolis. The Necropolis is a giant cemetery, 37 acres to be exact, that is situated on a hilltop overlooking the cathedral. It is much newer than the cathedral with most graves dating from the mid-1800’s to early 1900’s. However, what makes it so remarkable is the sheer opulence of the graves. They range from marble headstones, finely crafted statues, to full-out mausoleums. Looking back, I realized that I didn’t take too many pictures there, but I’ll try to give an idea of the place.
Glasgow Botanic Gardens
On my first day flying solo in Glasgow, I decided to visit the botanic gardens. It definitely wasn’t the best day to do this since the weather was dreadful and the gardens are mostly outside but hey it rains here all the time. The gardens are situated on the very edge of the West End and span a huge area. There are two conservatories that are mostly in the traditional Victorian style. The means that the flower displays are not actual gardens, but rather benches and tables with potted plants arranged on them. It was all quite lovely. However, the grounds were really the highlight of this museum, despite the time of the year (Scotland is already well into fall) and the dampness of the day.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
This is Glasgow’s biggest and probably most famous museum. It has a huge amount to see and I probably could have spent the entire day here and not seen everything. There is a huge art collection, including quite a bit on Scotland’s art scene, as well as natural history and archaeological exhibits. Probably the most famous housed in this museum is Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross. Yeah that one!
The Kelvingrove was a lovely museum with a lot to see. I learned a lot about Scottish heritage and art. However, I do think the museum was a bit confusing and its exhibits lacked cohesion. It was very difficult to figure out where the gallery began and ended, and thus was difficult to grasp the narrative of each room. However, as a museum student I am overly critical and honestly the museum was quite nice. And the building itself is stunning.
The Riverside Museum (Glasgow Museum of Transport) and the Tall Ship
The Riverside Museum and Tall Ship is the last museum that I’ve visited so far, and I was very surprised to find that it was my famous. Out of all the Glasgow museums, it was the one I was least interested in but found it to be the most engaging and straight up fun. I’ve seen a museum hit such a home run with display and design, particularly in their children’s activities and digital displays. There were exhibits on every mode of transport from bikes to ships to skateboards to locomotives. A huge emphasis was placed on cars, which was fascinating to me especially, since most of those types of cars had never made it to the States. I also thought that one of the best part of the exhibits was a recreation of a Glasgow street in the late 1800’s.
Another of my favorite parts of this day was visiting the Tall Ship. Although located on the same premises as the Riverside Museum, the Tall Ship is its own museum floating right on the River Clyde. The Tall Ship is carefully preserved in some places, recreated in others, to portray a merchant vessel from the 1890’s. It is one of only 5 surviving ships that were built in Glasgow during its shipbuilding boom. The entire ship is open for visitors and has a perfect combination of activities for children and informative panels for the history buffs. It also was a perfect spot to view the river.
Well that’s all of my adventures for now! Hopefully I get a chance to check out the last few museums before classes start next week!