The city is home to more than 20 world-class museums and art galleries; and is proud to have Europe’s largest civic arts collection with works by Van Gogh, Degas and Monet all available to view free-of-charge in venues around the city. With such a diverse offering, it is no surprise that the city was named the UK’s top cultural and creative city (European Commission 2019).
At the heart of Glasgow Harbour, in the West of the city, is the iconic Riverside Museum, named European Museum of the Year in 2013. This multi-award winning museum is home to over 3,000 objects that detail Glasgow’s rich past from its days as maritime powerhouse to a glimpse into daily Glasgow life in the early to mid 20th Century. For more on Glasgow's maritime heritage and stories from the shipbuilding era in Govan and the River Clyde, visit the Fairfield Heritage Centre within the prestigious former headquarters of Glasgow's greatest shipyard or House For An Art Lover's Heritage Centre in Bellahouston Park.
A must-visit is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. First opened in 1901, it houses one of Europe's great art collections and is rated the number 1 art museum to visit in the UK on TripAdvisor. Situated a stone's throw away is Scotland's oldest public museum, The Hunterian** at the University of Glasgow, home to a treasure trove of artefacts and also to the largest single holding of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
A former fish market, The Briggait opened in July 2010, as a new home for visual artists and cultural organisations. Along with The Briggait redevelopment, Trongate 103 and the truly unique Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre has created a vibrant new arts quarter in the Merchant City. And just a few blocks away is the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Scotland's most visited modern art gallery.
You can take in contemporary or traditional art across the city, with everything in-between too! Promoting contemporary art and artists is the RGI Kelly Gallery in the city centre, whilst cutting edge touring displays and festivals are held at the nearby Centre for Contemporary Arts. Across the river to the south is the industrial Tramway, which hosted the 2015 Turner Prize and is home to one of the largest single gallery spaces in Europe. For a more traditional take on art, architecture and interiors, Pollok House and the Glasgow Art Club are both historic buildings that are intricately furnished, with grand artworks on display.
Head to the East of the city where you can explore the history of Glasgow. Contemplate faith and religion by taking in the artefacts at St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Art before enjoying a stroll in the first Zen garden in Britain. Take in a visit to the Tenement House and the Provand’s Lordship to see recreated houses and interiors of times gone by.
For many, the building itself is as astounding to visit as the collections inside - there is the Art Nouveau genius of Mackintosh's Scotland Street Museum and architectural flair of Alexander 'Greek' Thomson's magnificent Holmwood House.
Glasgow's finest asset is its people. So it comes as no surprise that everyday people and legends who hail from here are recognised within city museums. Learn about the champions that inspire the famous footballers of today at the Scotland Football Museum, the lives of Glaswegians told through the years at the People’s Palace, the histories and achievements of women at Glasgow's Women's Library, the oldest police force in the UK at the Glasgow Police Museum and film footage of the ever-changing face of Scottish life at The National Library of Scotland at the Kelvin Hall.
Glasgow Museums have one of the finest collections in Europe, many of which you can view in person. However, there is even more to see! The Glasgow Museums Resource Centre contains Glasgow's vast treasures that are not on display with tours available, or you can browse through some of the objects available online.
**A redisplay of the Hunterian Art Gallery permanent art displays means that some sections will be unavailable until September 2019. The Hunterian Museum and Mackintosh House remain open as usual.
Article last update: November 2019