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Glasgow Museums & Galleries

The Burrell Collection
2060 Pollokshaws Road
Glasgow G43 1AT United Kingdom
+44 141 287 2550
This museum houses the treasures left to Glasgow by Sir William Burrell, a wealthy ship owner and industrialist who had a lifelong passion for art. He started collecting at 14 and only ended when he died at the age of 96 in 1958. His tastes were eclectic: Chinese ceramics, French paintings from the 1800s, tapestries, stained-glass windows from churches, even stone doorways from the Middle Ages. It is said that the collector “liked about everything,” including one of the very few original bronze casts of Rodin’s Thinker. He did find some art to his distaste, including avant-garde works (“Monet was just too impressionistic”). You can see a vast aggregation of furniture, textiles, ceramics, stained glass, silver, art objects, and pictures in the dining room, hall, and drawing room reconstructed from Sir William’s home, Hutton Castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Ancient artifacts, Asian art, and European decorative arts and paintings are featured. There is a cafe on site, and you can roam through the surrounding park, 5km (3 miles) south of the River Clyde.

Gallery of Modern Art
Queen Street
Glasgow G1 3AH United Kingdom
+44 141 229 1996
GOMA, as it is better known, is housed in the former Royal Exchange at Royal Exchange Square, where Ingram Street meets Queen Street. The building — originally surrounded by farmland — was built as a mansion for an 18th-century tobacco magnate. Later it was expanded by one the city’s busy 19th-century architects, David Hamilton, who added a dramatic portico to the front. Now the pile and its square are at the heart of the city, near George Square and Buchanan Street. The galleries on different floors are slightly pretentiously named after earth, fire, air, and water. The permanent collection has works by Stanley Spencer and John Bellany as well as art from the “new Glasgow boys” who emerged in the 1980s, such as Peter Howson, Ken Currie, and Steven Campbell. Before controversially becoming the museum in the mid-1990s, the pile was used as a public library and recently the basement was converted to that function again.

For one of the best views of the cathedral and the city, too, for that matter, cross the ravine (through which the Molendinar Burn once ran before being diverted underground) into the Central Necropolis. Built on a proud hill and dominated by a statue of John Knox, this graveyard (patterned in part on the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris) was opened in the 1830s. Coincidentally emblematic of the mixing of ethnic groups in Glasgow, the first person to be buried here was Jewish, as Jews were first to receive permission to use part of the hill for burial grounds.

Glasgow School of Art
167 Renfrew Street
Glasgow G3 6RQ United Kingdom
Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s global reputation rests in large part on this magnificent building on Garnethill above Sauchiehall Street, a highlight of the Mackintosh trail that legions of his fans from across the world follow through the city. Completed in two stages (1899 and 1909), the building offers a mix of ideas promoted by the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. Given its quality, what’s more amazing is that Mackintosh was not yet 30 when he designed the place. It is still a working — and much respected — school of art whose graduates continue to make their mark in the international art world. Guided tours are the only way to see the entire building, a highlight of which has to be the library. If you just drop in, however, the first floor offers a gift shop while the airy landing one flight up serves as the school’s exhibition space: the Mackintosh Gallery.

Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery
Argyle Street
Glasgow G3 8AG United Kingdom
+44 141 287 2699
Opened in 1902, this grand Victorian cathedral of culture should not be missed, particularly for its excellent collection of Scottish and European art. The impressive central hall is dominated at one end by organ pipes; recitals are an integral part of the museum program. An authentic museum shell emanates from the natural history of Scotland section, popular with school tours. Downstairs there’s a rather dowdy presentation of some interesting artifacts, including archaeological finds of prehistoric Scotland, European arms and armor, and silver. The art gallery upstairs houses the city’s art collection of 19th- and 20th-century works. Scottish painters of luminous landscapes and still lifes are comprehensively represented – Arthur Melville, McTaggart, Cadell, Joseph Crawhill and, among the moderns, Eduardo Paolozzi, Bruce McLean, David Hockney and Jasper Johns. Other paintings include Rembrandt’s wonderful Man in Armor, and works by Botticelli, Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso.

Museum of Transport
Kelvin Hall
Glasgow G3 8DP United Kingdom
+44 141 287 2720
This museum contains a collection of all forms of transportation and related technology. Displays include a simulated 1938 Glasgow street with period shop-fronts, era-appropriate vehicles, and a reconstruction of one of the Glasgow Underground stations. The superb and varied ship models in the Clyde Room reflect the significance of Glasgow and the River Clyde as one of the world’s foremost areas of shipbuilding and engineering.

Science Center
50 Pacific Quay
Glasgow, G51 1EA, UK
+44 141 420 5000
This┬áhas been called Britain’s most successful “millennium project” — although there were so many stinkers constructed to commemorate the year 2000 that compliment can be read as faint praise. Indeed, a millennium jinx has even hit here. The tall, slender tower atop which an observatory room was designed to give breathtaking views closed shortly after the Science Center opened in 2000, and in 2004 it remained off-limits. Still, on the banks of the River Clyde and opposite the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center, this futuristic-looking, silver-skinned edifice (the first titanium-clad building in Britain) is the focal point of Glasgow’s drive to redevelop this once rundown former dock lands. The overall theme of the exhibitions is to document 21st-century challenges, as well as Glasgow’s contribution to science and technology in the past, present, and future. Families should enjoy the hands-on and interactive activities: whether taking a three-dimensional head scan or starring in their own digital video.


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