Your guide to the top 8 museums in Glasgow

Glasgow is the pulsating cultural heart of Scotland. This post-industrial city has developed over the years into a vibrant and bustling centre. It stands proud of its rich Scottish heritage, evident in the various museums across the city including the Riverside Museum, People’s Palace, Scotland Street School and Mackintosh House. Nestled among these, are venues showcasing art, such as Kelvingrove Gallery and the Burrell Collection, and modern museums such as the Science Centre and Scottish Football Museum. Whatever your taste, there are plenty of museums to tell Glasgow’s story that are well worth a visit.

1. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the most visited museum in the UK outside of London, and Scotland’s most visited free attraction. It opened in 1901 and the external architecture is worth the visit alone. Inside, the museum is made up of extensive displays in over 22 galleries. The collection includes over 8000 artefacts from Scottish art and history, to architecture, including the works of Art Nouveau Architect, Charles Rennie Macintosh. International displays include Paintings from Dutch Masters and French Impressionists, Ancient Egypt and World Cultures.

2. Science Centre

Glasgow Science Centre istock

Glasgow Science Centre is about education and bringing science to life. Externally, this modern titanium structure shines on the banks of the River Clyde. Once inside, the Science Mall offers hundreds of interactive displays to challenge young and old minds. Enter the darkness of the Planetarium and watch the night sky glow with over 9000 stars and planets that appear as they would look from Earth. This is a massive hit with the kids. As is Cineworld IMAX theatre, which takes you on an incredible 3D journey through an educational series of science films into the world of mountains, sea or even space. Glasgow Tower made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest structure in the world that can rotate 360 degrees in prevailing winds, and is the highest structure in Scotland. Ascend 127 metres above the science centre for fantastic panoramic views across the city.

3. Riverside Museum

Glasgow Riverside Museum

A relatively new addition to the city, the Riverside Museum is situated a little further along the Clyde from the Science Museum. The building itself is located on the site of the former Inglis Shipyard and has become a city icon. The museum delves into Glasgow’s rich maritime history, as well as becoming the new home of the Transport Museum that used to be located in Kelvin Hall.  With over 3000 artefacts, the collections range from locomotives, real and model vintage cars and bicycles to skateboards.  The highlight of the maritime section has to be the 19th century Tall Ship Glenlee, moored on the docks. Make sure you climb aboard where you can imagine how it would be to sail at sea.

4.   Scottish Football Museum & Stadium Tour

MSS Sources image Scottish Football Museum 2

Source: Scottish Football Museum

The Scottish are passionate about everything ‘football’, something that is evident at The Hampden Experience and Scottish Football Museum. Follow the journey of football over the years in an impressive and unique exhibit. The display comprises of a collection designed to promote the sport’s heritage and to inspire generations to come. Combine this visit with a full tour of Scotland’s national stadium where you will be lead to the changing rooms of the national team and out through the player’s tunnel onto the pitch. This five star tourist attraction is ideal for families and football fans alike.

5.   The Hunterian & Mackintosh House

Hunterian Gallery Main Hall

Source: The Hunterian Museum Main Hall © The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2012.

The Hunterian was founded in 1807 and is Scotland’s oldest public museum. It is also one of the top university museums in the world, belonging to Glasgow University. This spectacular museum includes national collections of great artists throughout time, antiquity and science. It is here you will find the largest collection of the life and works of Dr William Hunter, a pioneering physician born and educated in Glasgow.

Hunterian Gallery - Macintosh house

Source: The Mackintosh House Studio-Drawing Room © The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2012.

The other highlight is Mackintosh House, an integral part of the gallery. You can follow a guided tour around the three principle rooms of the famous Scottish Architect’s home, which he lived in from 1906-1914, giving a great insight to his life of art and design.

6. People’s Palace & Winter Gardens

Glasgow People's Palace

The People’s Palace is set in the grounds of the popular recreation park, Glasgow Green. As the name suggests, it tells the story of the people of the city. Through an exhibit of artefacts, paintings and photographs, the museum takes you on a journey through social history, from 1750 to the present day. Learn how Glaswegians lived, worked and played throughout the times. Take time to stroll around the winter gardens, a Victorian glasshouse that displays beautiful tropical plants.

7. Scotland Street School Museum

Scotland St. School Museum,Glasgow

Source: Scotland Street School Museum | Glasgow Life

Scotland Street School Museum tells a story of Scottish education over 100 years. This is another architectural gem and prime example of the works of Charles Rennie Macintosh who designed it between 1903 and 1906. Enjoy a glimpse into how it was to attend school between the late 19th and 20th centuries. How was it in the classroom during Queen Victoria’s reign, World War II or in the decades that followed? Visit and find out.

8. Burrell Collection

Burrell collection display 2

Source: Burrell Collection | Glasgow Life

Situated in Pollok Country Park, the Burrell Collection gets its name from Sir William Burrell (1861-1958), a shipping agent who donated his personal collection of over 8000 items. His art collection includes artefacts from medieval and renaissance Europe, as well as Chinese, Islamic and French art and incredible displays of ancient civilisations. Note: some items are on loan in London but will be back in their pride of place in Glasgow by February 2015. Before you leave, set aside time to explore the park, home to Highland cows, Clydesdale horses and beautiful paths lined with flowers and trees.

For an overview of some of the city’s fantastic museums, visit Glasgow Life. The easiest way to visit the museums and galleries is by taking the City Sightseeing Bus from Stop 10, just outside the Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow. From here, you can hop on and off the bus at any attraction you like along the route.  Alternatively, the hotel is located centrally so it’s close to public transport links, which makes it easy to get there on your own.

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