Saturday, 29 May 2010

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1901 and is one of Europe's great museums. See

Evening view from Kelvingrove Park

The museum closed 2003-06 for refurbishment. This is the Lady Provost of the day giving a speech  at the public opening. A smiling suit  from the National Lottery - which gave a large amount of money for the restoration - also gave a speech, in which he told the people waiting to get in  that they should buy lots more lottery tickets so that projects such as this refurbishment could  continue.

I wondered  what the founders and builders of the museum - the Victorian civic leaders and industrialists -  would have made of this. It is surely improbable that they could have imagined that  100 years after their great establishment, Kelvingrove museum would be funded by profits derived from gambling.

If this blog has a theme among its rambles, it is that Glasgow has been badly let down by its modern civic leaders: dim (and often something worse than dim) men and women of no vision and meagre competence, content to putter and potter along on the assets  bequeathed to the city by bigger and better people - and in many cases they have not even preserved the assets, but have let them be destroyed  - see Alexander 'Greek' Thomson.

The elephant here is Sir Roger, an  Indian elephant. He was brought to Glasgow in 1900 to be the main attraction in a menagerie,  and  was shot by an army firing squad after going mad in 1909. His tusks had previously been removed (which may explain his anger issues) and the taxidermists gave him wooden ones. The Spitfire behind is from the City of Glasgow Spitfire squadron (one member of the squadron was the second pilot to shoot down a Nazi plane in WWII).  Some dour people complained that the Spitfire was not quite right for the museum but  I  disagree - it is one of the most beautiful things designed by a human. And what's not to like about a  display of an elephant with a Spitfire aimed at its arse.

Not sure about some of the temporary exhibitions though. One of the most successful post-refurbishment pay-to-view exhibitions was a display of Kylie Minogue's frocks which raised a few eyebrows as well as hems. This Dr Who exhibition was popular and arguably more credible

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