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Photo credit: Kelvingrove via Facebook

Spotlight On: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

8 November 2018 | Katie Da Cunha Lewin

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, situated on the banks of the River Kelvin and near Kelvingrove Park, is now one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was opened in 1901, partly built through funds raised through the 1888 International Exhibition. It was designed by Sir John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen and was built in a Spanish Baroque style, giving it a distinctive look in the Glasgow landscape. The museum entrance faces into the garden, leading some Glasgow residents to spread the rumour that the building was built back-to-front, causing one of its architects to jump from a tower in horror at the mistake. However, luckily, this has been shown to be an urban legend, as its design plans show.

Image Credit: Billy McDonald via Flickr
 
The museum was closed in 2003 for substantial refurbishment; unsurprisingly, after 100 years open, it needed some care and attention! It was reopened in 2006 with a new restaurant, basement, and more navigable pathways through the museum. It was immediately popular with both local residents and tourists, and is one of the most-visited museums outside of London.

The Kelvingrove has an extensive collection of a wide variety of objects. The museum’s displays can be found in their 22 themed galleries covering several periods of history and cultural artefacts. They have several galleries containing Scottish and European art: the Dutch Gallery for example hosts several artworks by Old Masters, whilst the French Gallery has work by some of the best-known French Impressionists including Monet and Pissarro.  The Glasgow Boys are – unsurprisingly given the location – also represented in the museum; this group of painters and designers got together in the 1870s and came to create a particular style associated with the city. The gallery has work by key figures in this movement such as George Henry and James Guthrie.
 
The museum is also uniquely attractive in its inclusion of cultural artefacts as well as art work, meaning each visit to the gallery will be filled with new things to see. One popular display is the Kelvingrove’s Arms and Armour gallery, in which visitors can find Italian armour from the 1400s, as well as armour for man and horse worn by first Earl of Pembroke.

Extract from Salvador Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross. Image Credit: Kelvingrove Art via Twitter

The gallery has some particularly famous objects on display, including an Asian elephant named Sir Roger and a Spitfire which is hung from the ceiling in a beautiful atrium. Arguably the most famous painting owned by the museum is surrealist painter Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross. The painting has been on display at the museum since 1952 and is considered one of Dali’s most significant works. It’s striking size coupled with its unique presentation of the crucifixion makes it alone worth a visit.

The museum’s commitment to free entrance coupled with its massive range of objects on display makes this one of Scotland’s most worthwhile and fun days out.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is located at Argyle St, Glasgow G3 8AG
 
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