It being St Andrew’s Day where else should I be but in Glasgow, and given that it was a very wet St Andrew’s Day that meant somewhere indoors in Glasgow.
I’ve written before about the city’s wealth and importance when trade with the British Empire was at its height, and nowhere sums this up better than the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It always strikes me as odd when I find buildings that fulfil both functions even though it’s a solution to be found in many towns and cities faced with the problem of displaying interesting but diverse collections. I’m clearly not cut out to be a curator!
Diverse is certainly the word for the contents of Kelvingrove, though you could say eclectic, or even eccentric.
The fabric of the building itself is slightly misleading – the exterior plaques bear the names of great European artists, and the theme continues in the Centre Hall with tributes to composers. A temple to the Arts then?
Well yes and no. There are plenty of works here by great masters, including Rembrandt, Monet, and Matisse for starters, and the enormous organ suggests that musicianship is also valued (though at the time of my visit the repertoire of the organist did include “Let it Snow”) but then there is a wing dedicated to anthropology and natural history, a modicum of weaponry on display, and of course no museum should be without a hydrant. Don’t even get me started on why there’s a real Spitfire on the floor!
I can’t complain. For a nerd like me there’s always something of interest, which brings me to the title of this post. Heard on the radio on Saturday was this useful addition to my vocabulary; a Scottish word which despite its use here doesn’t mean Title. Instead it refers to that moment of hesitation when you are about to introduce someone and you realise you can’t remember their name! Essential and very Scottish. It seems I’m just as eccentric in my collecting.
But I digress. It’s not surprising that the forefathers of Glasgow amassed such a varied collection from around the world, but perhaps their greatest contribution isn’t the art or ephemera. It’s the amazing building they chose to display it in.