Things to See and Do at the Kelvingrove Museum
One of the museums I had been most looking forward to visiting in Glasgow, was the Kelvingrove. The Kelvingrove was designed by Sir John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen and opened in 1901, as the Palace of Fine Arts. It was supposed to be for the Glasgow International Exhibition that was going on that year but after the exhibition, it continued here showing off some of the best Scottish and international artists around the world.
1. Exterior Architecture
Unlike a lot of the Gothic Revival buildings across the city, this gallery was built in the Spanish Baroque Style using red sandstone bricks from Glasgow.
There is an urban legend that the building was built back to front, and the architect jumped from one of the highest towers when he realised his mistake. Although this is only an urban legend, there is something strange about walking into the front of the building from what seems like the back entrance. Maybe there could be some truth to this....but I suppose the truth died with the architect.
2. The Concert Pipe Organ
As you walk in the doors and pay for your ticket, your eye immediately rises up and gaze at the centrepiece of the room, the concert pipe organ. It was constructed by Lewis & Co. in 1901. The concert hall itself can house over 3,000 people for their private organ concerts, but lucky museum visitors can experience a concert themselves on a daily basis
I was having a morning of severe jet lag, so we took a seat in the cafe with a cup of green tea and listened to the organ player. We were lucky to get there in time for one of their sessions. He played some classical pieces but also entertained us with some of my favourite tunes from various musicals. It was the distraction and the cure I needed to get back on my feet.
3. Floating Heads Installation
When I felt a little better, we got up to begin exploring the museum. One of the first pieces that catch your eyes, and how could it not, is the Floating Heads Installation by Sophie Cave. 50 different white plaster heads are floating in the room, each displaying a different emotion. They were torn in the throes of pleasure, pain, laughter and love. The heads are lit with the various colours of light to emphasise their articulated expressions.
4. The Old Masters
The museum houses some exquisite old masters such as The art collection includes many outstanding European artworks, including works by the Old Masters like Rembrandt van Rijn, Gerard de Lairesse, and Jozef Israel.
5. Glasgow's Scottish Colourists
Wander by the Glasgow's Scottish Colourists and other famous painters from the Glasgow School of Art.
6. Sir Roger the Elephant
Its collection of natural history is something that many visitors come to see, especially the stuffed 11-foot-tall Asian elephant called Sir Roger.
7. Charles Rennie Mackintosh
One of the most prolific Glaswegian artists was Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Not only was her an artist but he also made significant strides in graphic design. His name was plastered all over our history books and seeing his work in person, getting to almost touch the pieces was an exciting moment for me. His distinct combination of Art Nouveau and geometric Art Deco was something revolutionary.
8. Dali's 'Christ of St John of the Cross'
Our favourite piece in the gallery was hands down Dali's controversial masterpiece, Christ of St John of the Cross. There is no missing this one, even with just a glance, you are drawn into the painting, almost falling into it. The painting shows Jesus on the cross floating in a midnight blue sky and below him, there is a boat with fisherman going about their business. Unlike a lot of other crucifixions scenes, Jesus has no nails in his hands, no blood on his head from the crown of thorns that is also missing. His hair is almost styles and modern in nature. It feels like it could be anyone up there, maybe even someone you know.
9. Glasgow Stained Glass
One of the most vibrant and eye catching stained glass windows I'd even see on display here. It is made by Irish-born artist Harry Clarke in 1923 and done in a style unique different than a most glass of that period. It was commissioned for the Notre Dame Chapel in Glasgow, and it depicts the coronation of the Blessed Virgin. The Virgin is surrounded by angels and saints and is being crowned by Christ. He bright lapis lazuli robes flow down and across the panels, like the ocean spilling out. The colours in this piece are just staggering, and it's no wonder this piece made such an impact when it was installed in the church.
When you look close up at the saint's robes, it is amazing to see the level of detail added to their clothing. Filigree and flowers are hidden within the robes, making the scene appears almost like something out of Botticelli's forests.
10. Scottish Armory
The Kelvingrove has some of the greatest examples of wartime armour and weapons used in Scotland throughout history. They are dressed and exhibited in a wonderfully creative way making each mannequin seem ready for battle. As if they could come to life at any moment to continue whatever battle they once were part of.
The Kelvingrove is a must see for another travelling to Glasgow, who wishes to be taken through the history, art and culture of Scottish society in one foul swoop.