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Friday, 3 May 2013

Scottish high jinks at the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow

On a recent trip to Glasgow for the ICON  conference Ministry member Emily Yates (@emyyates) gave us her exclusive opinion on the Kelvingrove Museum. Since her visit the Museum has taken a finalist slot on the shortlist for Museum of the Year Award (to find out more The Ministry explains it all
 So what did Emily think before the Art Fund Museum of the Year finalist ranking made it  a mainstream must see? 

The Ministry of Curiosity is a London-centric website, but every so often us members leave the city, (what a horrifying thought!) I recently went to Glasgow for the ICON conference and visited the Kelvingrove Museum. I didn't know what to expect other than some Scottish stuff, so as I walked in the door and was greeted by a man playing the James Bond theme on an organ, I could tell this was going to be a good museum visit!

Check out that organ, a must have feature from now on!
Naturally everything had a Scottish theme-  it being a museum explain the Scottish past - but I thought this was done in a very informative, inventive and at times, hilarious!
I think my favourite was the local Scottish animals in the natural world (the inevitable taxidermy room). Here we see a highland cow, red squirrel, haggis, grouse... hang on, HAGGIS?! Yep, those cheeky little museum workers have put a haggis on display! I love it! Sadly the anatomical model of the haggis was in conservation, again best object remove label ever!

Oh you little haggis scoticus!
Just in front of the haggis was another cheeky wink, next to a lovely grouse we have a bottle of Famous Grouse whisky! I hope children don’t get confused and think that grouse go into the making of the drink as that could cause trauma later! I was beginning to think whoever was in charge of this little room is a genius, when I looked at the next case of songbirds to see a sleeping (stuffed) cat at the bottom of the case, bamn! they struck again!

This kitty may not get the birds he desires
 I loved this one case, it explained Asian ‘medicines’ using tiger parts. The half tiger had a beautiful copper body made by the artist, Peter Donohoe to represent the hope that tiger slaughter will be ended for these practices.
A new method for displaying incomplete specimens?
There was a section called Glasgow Stories which approached topics such as mental health and violence against women in a sensitive and informative manner. It was somewhat ruined by the obnoxious western music from the display about when the Wild West Show visited Glasgow, and their subsequent fascination with the wild west.

There was also a fantastic long gallery filled with Rennie McIntosh and Glasgow Art School furniture and imagery. So much art deco in one place made me very happy. Also I recommend looking up the artists known as the Glasgow Boys, as they have some beautiful work, and gallery to themselves.

The last gallery I’ll mention is the weaponry/war gallery. Mainly due to the dynamic and artistic way in which their sword collection was displayed. They had twisted and coiled steel figures, bandying their appropriate sword. I love them; they are life sized works of art! I would love to see these in different museums, bringing what can be boring racks of swords to life!
Now these are men of steel
I’ll stop here by saying, go and visit, its free! But you have to go all the way to Glasgow...

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