Glasgow: Kelvingrove, Hunterian, Botanical Gardens, Riverside Museum

I had a fairly full day in the West End of Glasgow, taking in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Hunterian Museum, the Hunterian Art Gallery, the Botanical Gardens and the Riverside Museum.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is worth a visit if only to admire the building. Red stone on the exterior, grey stone on the interior, and great spaces make it beautiful inside and out.

Three grand atriums occupy much of the space.

Most of the exhibits were in galleries on two levels surrounding the atriums. The two outer atriums also held exhibits, but, being atriums that soared from the ground level to the roof—in the case of one atrium, a glass roof—they held only a single exhibit level.

You might well ask what sort of stuff did the gallery and museum display? Well, let me tell you. It displayed pretty much everything from soup to nuts.

No Tootsie Rolls

It would be easier to say what sort of things the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum did not display. Tootsie Rolls. I didn’t see a single Tootsie Roll displayed there. But that was about it.

Come to think of it, soup and nuts. The museum did not display either soup or nuts, except maybe in the café. Because I didn’t eat there, I don’t know. But soup and nuts certainly weren’t on exhibit. So, the three things the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum didn’t display were Tootsie Rolls, soup, and nuts.

And there were no water pistols. Right. So, among the great many things not displayed were …

Sorry. I was captured by a Monty Python skit for a while there. But I’m back now.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The collection was, to say the least, wide-ranging.

I saw paintings from a few eras, mostly post-Renaissance; old armour from a few different places, including from Japan; an old 3D model of the solar system; exhibits on the animal kingdom, both from today and from the Triassic and Jurassic periods; old Egyptian, Greek and Asian artifacts; a World War II-era Spitfire plane hanging from the ceiling; and probably a whole bunch of other stuff I’ve forgotten.

As usual, here are some pictures. That is to say, pictures from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. I could have put pictures of, for example, a sewage treatment plant here instead, but that would have been irrelevant and totally inappropriate.

From Kelvingrove to Hunterian

I intentionally took a wee bit less direct route from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to my next destination, Hunterian Museum, than necessary. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is in Kelvingrove Park. The longer route allowed me to enjoy more of the park, which, from my rambling yesterday, I already knew was beautiful and calming. 

The path today overlapped yesterday’s route only very briefly. I saw the Lister and Kelvin statues again, but that was about it. (Lord Kelvin was still wearing his road cone dunce cap.)

The park was as attractive and tranquil as yesterday. Here are a couple of snaps from today.

Hunterian Museum

The Hunterian Museum is part of the University of Glasgow. It’s upstairs in one of the university’s imposing old stone buildings.

This smallish museum spreads mostly over two rooms, although another room basically provided an introduction to the museum and some credits.

One of the rooms was dedicated almost entirely to the Roman Empire’s time in the area. A primary focus there was the Antonine wall, a less famous relative of Hadrian’s Wall.

The displays included a number of engraved stones from the wall. The placard beside one said it was a cast from a stone, not the stone itself. I assume the ones that didn’t say they were casts, which was all of the others for which I looked at the placards, were actual stones from the wall.

The non-wall-related artifacts included weapons, plumbing, and more.

For a reason that totally escapes me or, more likely, no reason at all, I took only one picture in that room. It’s to the left.

The Eclectic Room

The other room was much more eclectic. Exhibits included small human body parts in jars, scientific instruments and teaching aids of William Hunter and Lord Kelvin, minerals, and fossils.

One thing I learned in this room was that ancient civilizations living in the Mediterranean area thought they lived at the center of the world. That’s how the name Mediterranean came to be. It comes from the Latin mediterraneus, medius meaning middle and terra meaning land or earth).

I learned all this from a placard at the museum. I didn’t have a clue of the derivation of “Mediterranean” before that. If I’m the only person in the world who didn’t know that, please don’t tell me. I hate feeling stupid. Which doesn’t mean I’m not stupid. I just hate feeling like I am.

Of course, today, we know they were wrong. It’s common knowledge that Toronto, Canada is the center of not just the world, but of the universe.

By the way, about those items from William Hunter, the museum takes its name from him. He was a physician, an alumnus of the University of Glasgow, a teacher at the Royal Academy, and a great collector of a wide variety of objects. He donated his collection and some money to the University of Glasgow. Hence the naming honour.

Lord Kelvin, who, when he wasn’t lording his lordship over people, went by the name of William Thomson, taught mathematics and engineering at the University of Glasgow.   

Here are couple of pics from inside the more eclectic room. I didn’t take my usual copious photos in that room either. I’m slipping. Be sure to ask for your money back when you exit this blog.

University of Glasgow

The portion of the University of Glasgow campus containing the Hunterian Museum is old, beautiful, and very ivory tower-looking. I mean that in the best possible way.

It’s well worth a few photos on its own. So here they are.

The Hunterian Art Gallery

The Hunterian Art Gallery is also a part of the University of Glasgow. It’s across a road and up a piece from the Hunterian Museum. The gallery is housed in a much more modern building than the museum. And, to my eye, the building housing the gallery is less attractive than the one housing the museum.

The collection in the Hunterian Gallery is rather small compared to those in major art galleries, but it’s impressive. I know that at least one art historian reads this blog. (Hi, sis!) She’s probably getting tired of me making a total mess of describing the contents of art galleries. So, I’ll leave it at that and just show you a few pictures of the collection.

The Glasgow Botanical Gardens

Glasgow’s Botanical Gardens are expansive and delightful. They included lots of lawns, flower beds, a garden of roses from around the world, an arboretum, and a couple of sets of large greenhouses.

The sections of the greenhouses were varied. There was a tropical forest, a desert area, a koi pond with vegetation in the middle, and a killer plant area (Venus fly traps and other carnivorous plants), among other specialized areas.

All of that provided for an enjoyable visit, but it’s not what most excited me about the Botanical Gardens. What excited me most was not actually in the gardens. It was embedded in the fence, almost immediately beside the entrance to the gardens.


I found a TARDIS!

Unfortunately, the TARDIS was locked. I was tired by that point in the day. I would have liked to go inside, find a bed in its spacious interior, and have a little lie-me-down.

Better yet, I would have liked to have used the TARDIS to travel back in time and space to Toronto a little over six decades ago. I would have then told my parents in no uncertain terms to make sure that I was placed in the other grade one class in my school. I’m thoroughly convinced that my life would have turned out better if they had.

But enough about the TARDIS, here’s the botanical gardens, including the greenhouses:

Riverside Museum

Riverside Museum
Riverside Museum

The Riverside Museum is beside a river, the River Clyde, to be precise. What an imaginative name they came up with.

It’s dedicated almost exclusively to the history of transportation. It displayed old cars, train engines, trams (including a double-decker one), motorcycles, prams, bicycles, buses, small boats, and model ships. (It was big, but not big enough to hold a whole ship.)

Sinking Feeling

At one of the ship displays I learned that it took two years to build and another two years to fit out the HMS Hood. It sank in two minutes. All but three of the HMCS Hood’s crew died when it did.

This reminded me of the Vasa, a big warship build in 17th century Sweden. It suffered a similar fate. The Vasa was recently (recently compared to the 17th century) salvaged and is on display in a Stockholm museum dedicated exclusively to the Vasa that was built around the dry dock where it was restored. I saw the Vasa a few years ago, before I started writing this blog.

I’d say neither Scotland nor Sweden got its money’s worth out of the HMS Hood and the Vasa, respectively.

The Riverside Museum also housed a mock early 1900s street, with tram tracks embedded in the cobblestone street and a carriage on it. Fake shops lined the sides of the street.

The shops on the street weren’t why I said that the museum was almost exclusively about transportation, with an emphasis on “almost.” There was also a brief video on what it was like to go to a cinema in the 1930s. Interviews of various people provided information about what snacks were sold in cinemas then, the fact that there was a lot of smoking, cinema-going etiquette, the custom of ushers to shine their flashlights on any couples making out in the back row to get them to stop, and so on. Why was this video in a museum otherwise dedicated to transportation, you ask. I haven’t the foggiest.

Tall Ship

Behind the Riverside Museum, floating on the Clyde, was a tall ship. I could have boarded the tall ship and walked around. I didn’t. It was in the process of being captured by children and their parents at the time. I don’t think capture was their intent, but it was their effect.

Random Pics

As usual, here are some pictures I took along the way that don’t fit into any of the above sections.


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