Glasgow is an interesting beast. It has a grand river, the Clyde, but no real sense of the city centre connecting with it. Whether this is down to the Clyde’s former history as a port or something else, I’m not sure, but it does leave the visitor with an odd sense of disconnect when exploring the river area. This isn’t helped by the fact that on both sides of the rivers near the city centre there are areas where you can’t walk directly next tot he river but have to head inland to continue your route before rejoining the river.
However, we took a stroll by the river to look at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) and the SSE Hydro, which are dramatic buildings by the riverside (actually built on a filled-in former dock). We couldn’t go in, but they were interesting to see up close.
Next on the agenda (after a slightly convoluted walk) was a visit to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This is a truly grand and inspiring building, opened in 1901 after the success of the 1888 International Exhibition held in the adjacent park.
It’s a huge building too, with two wings on two floors opening off a grand central area. One side of the building is the art gallery, the other the museum. The art gallery part was truly fantastic, with a really interesting range of paintings, including Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dalí. I personally found the museum part less cohesive – often there didn’t seem to be a clear narrative or thematic approach to the displays, which made the experience feel a little disjointed.
In a bid to add to the culture of the day, we then made our way back down to the Clyde, to the Riverside Museum. This is housed in a modern, striking building (designed by Zaha Hadid) and opened in 2011. It is Glasgow’s museum of transport and I found it to be a delightful jumble of old trams, trains, bikes and cars, examples from different eras of the Glasgow underground (more of that in part 3) and a reconstruction of a Glasgow shopping street from the late 19th and early 20th century.
One very striking part of the museum is the Wall of Cars, which Rob described as reminding of Matchbox cars from old childhood. Seeing so many cars displayed in this simple way (with good interpretation at ground level) makes you look at them in a different way.