Although three decades have passed since Glasgow was named a European Capital of Culture, the city remains home to most of Scotland’s cultural organisations.
From football to the arts, architecture to design, Glasgow’s museums proudly showcase the rich heritage of the city and its inhabitants. Look over the list below to find the museum that tickles your fancy.
1. Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, Merchant City
Housed on the first floor of Trongate 103, you will find possibly the most eccentric and one of a kind collection of sculptures that exist in Glasgow, Scotland, the UK, or maybe even the world. The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is art that moves, quite literally. Sculptures called kinemats (kinetic sculptures driven by electrical motors and controlled by sophisticated electromechanical devices) are carved or made from old scraps by self-taught Russian artist Eduard Bersudsky, and tell the often funny and tragic stories of the human condition.
Backed by a light and sound show, the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre is a bizarre, ghoulish, magical and unmissable experience. The theatre is currently offering private bookings from June 22 to July 4, whilst they are working to restore their programme of public operation and regular shows. For times and more information, be sure to check the Sharmanka website.
⏰ Closed Mondays. Tuesday to Thursday, 10am-5:30pm. Friday, 10am-5pm. Saturday, 10am-7:30pm. Sunday 12-5pm.
📍 103 Trongate, G1 5HD
💷 £10 entry
2. The Scottish Football Museum, Hampden Park
Although the Scotland men’s national team didn’t get past the group stages of the Euros 2020 (which we’re still gutted about), that’s not to say that Scottish football doesn’t have a rich and interesting history, which includes one of the world’s most iconic stadiums, Hampden Park. Stop by The World of Football exhibition and soak up the changes to the international game from the very first international match between Scotland and England where only 4000 people attended, before taking a tour of Hampden Park and trying your luck from the penalty spot. Will the infamous ‘Hampden Roar’ put you off your game?
Home to over 2500 objects, the Scottish Football Museum is one of the most impressive national team collections the world over. It includes strips, stickers, gloves and programmes, as well as the world’s oldest cap and match ticket, dating back to that very first international match in 1872. For stadium tour times and further information, see the Scottish Football Museum website.
⏰ Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm (Last entry at 4.15pm). Sunday 11am-5pm (Last entry at 4.15pm).
📍 Hampden Park, G42 9BA
💷 £13 adult, £5 child/concessions
3. Riverside Museum, Govan
The award-winning Riverside Museum designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid is home to all modes of transport. From skateboards and bicycles to motorbikes, cars, trains, buses and boats, the museum has over 3000 objects on display, as well as an old cobbled street to help visitors take a trip down memory lane. There’s even a life-size limited-edition fibreglass replica of an Imperial Storm Trooper, as well as an interactive cab from the ‘Train of the Future’ — the new state-of-the-art locomotive that will continue to connect Glasgow to Northern England. Visit the Riverside Museum today and help put out the fire in the interactive fire engine.
⏰ Monday to Saturday, 10-5pm. Sundays, 11am-5pm.
📍 Pointhouse Place, G3 8RS
💷 Free, but donations are welcome
4. Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Glasgow
The oldest museum in Scotland can be found at the University of Glasgow. Its vast collection is principally a result of the most generous bequeathment by passionate hoarder Dr William Hunter (1718-1783). His gift of coins, minerals, paintings and prints, ethnographic materials, books and manuscripts, as well as insects and other biological specimens, are currently on display across a number of buildings.
You will find The Hunterian Museum at the centre of Sir George Gilbert Scott’s neo-Gothic building, home to treasures such as scientific instruments belonging to James Watt and ethnographic objects from the voyages of Captain James Cook. The art collection is also quite extensive. Containing works by Rembrandt, Chardin, and Stubbs amongst others, it has developed over the years to include works by Whistler, Mackintosh and a number of Scottish pieces, especially from the Glasgow Boys and Scottish Colourists. If you’re squeamish when it comes to bugs, we’ll forgive you for passing on the Zoology Museum and its 600,000 specimen collection – 90% of which are insects.
The Hunterian Museum and some areas of the Hunterian Art Gallery are now open From 9 July, the museum’s permanent displays in Gallery 1 will reopen alongside their major new exhibition. However, The Mackintosh House remains closed due to physical distancing guidelines. Find out more information on The Hunterian Museum website.
⏰ Closed Mondays. Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm. Sunday 11am-4pm.
📍 University of Glasgow, 82 Hillhead Street, G12 8QQ
5. Glasgow Science Centre, Clyde Waterfront
Where kids get to learn and adults get to be kids again, The Glasgow Science Centre reopened on June 25 and is jam-packed with experiences to leave you in wonder. Question perspectives, see how your body works, explore the future of energy, something about physics I don’t understand, and, of course, the space zone and planetarium will have you mesmerised.
But if that’s not enough, catch a movie on Scotland’s biggest IMAX screen or take the trip up Glasgow Tower (not included in ticket price) for the best views of the city and surrounding areas. And adults, if you want to have a run around with a drink in hand and sans the kiddies, keep an eye out for the return of Science Lates, which usually takes place once a month on a Friday. Silent disco included to get you in the groove.
⏰ Summer hours- Monday to Friday 10-3pm, Saturday to Sunday 10-5pm. Autumn and winter hours- Saturday to Sunday, 10am-5pm.
📍 50 Pacific Quay, G51 1EA.
💷 £11.50 adult; £9.50 child/concessions
6. Gallery of Modern Art (GoMa), Royal Exchange Square
See the works of modern masters like Warhol, Hockney and Sebastião Salgado as well as pieces from Scots such as John Bellany and Ken Currie in the very centre of Glasgow. But possibly much more well known than the artwork inside and the building in which they are housed, at least to Glaswegians, is the statue of the Duke of Wellington made infamous for the consistently placed traffic cone on its head. See it out front of the neoclassical building in Royal Exchange Square, almost certainly with a cone on its head.
There’s also a library to peruse and a basement café for a bite to eat and a drink when you’re done with the many temporary exhibits organised every year. Find out more information including current exhibitions here.
⏰ Monday to Thursday and Saturday, 10-5pm. Friday and Sunday, 11-5pm.
📍 Royal Exchange Square, G1 3AH
7. Scotland Street School Museum, City Centre
One of Glasgow’s main architectural draw-cards is the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed and over budget Scotland Street School, nowadays known as the Scotland Street School Museum. Admire the stonework and the Scottish baronial-style tower staircases before stepping into a 1950’s classroom and seeing what life was like for a student in the time of Queen Victoria and post World War II. Just be good and you won’t have to worry about the Lochgelly Tawse, the leather whip named after the Fife town where it was manufactured.
⏰ Currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
📍 225 Scotland Street, G5 8QB
8. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove Park
With 22 themed, state-of-the-art galleries displaying a bewildering 8000 objects, it’s no wonder that Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of Scotland’s most popular and visited attractions. It also helps that it’s free — and that it houses Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross.
Once there, you can also see natural history displays, arms and armour artefacts, art spanning decades, as well delving into the life of Glasgow’s iconic architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. But don’t forget to pay a visit to Sir Roger the Asian Elephant who has called Glasgow home since 1900 and lived at Kelvingrove for more than 100 years.
⏰ Monday to Thursday and Saturday, 10-5pm. Friday and Sunday, 11-5pm.
📍 Argyle Street, G3 8AG
9. People’s Palace, Glasgow Green
Set in historic Glasgow Green, The People’s Palace tells the story of Glasgow and its people from 1750 to the present day. The city’s social history can be explored through a wealth of historic artefacts, paintings, prints and photographs, film and interactive computer displays. The exhibits give a wonderful insight into how Glaswegians lived, worked and played in years gone by. The People’s Palace has undergone a large amount of restoration, including Glasgow artist Ken Currie being commissioned to create a series of paintings for the ceiling dome of the museum. The eight panels are said to have marked the 200th anniversary of the Calton Weavers Massacre of 1787 and depict the history of Glasgow’s workers from that point to the present day.
Outside you’ll find the Winter Gardens, but unfortunately this will not be reopening, unlike the People’s Palace which is open from June 30. However, you’ll find the restored Doulton Fountain standing pride of place on Glasgow Green. At 46 feet high and 70 feet across at its base, the Doulton Fountain is said to be the largest terracotta fountain in the world.
⏰ Wednesday and Thursday, 10am-5pm.
📍 Glasgow Green, Templeton Street, G40 1AT