The Complete Guide to Visiting Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow

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Last updated on May 23rd, 2020


Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow

Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the highlight of the 84-acre green area in the city, Kelvingrove Park. The museum features a vast number of exhibits sourced from across the world. Entry is free.

Category: Art gallery, Historic building, Museum, Science and technology

Suitable for ages: 5 to 10 years, 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years

Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers

I rate it: 9 out of 10

Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow

About Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Situated in the centre of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the focal point of the beautiful Kelvingrove Park, the 84-acre green area that was created in 1852 as a place of recreation for the city’s residents.

The constantly changing exhibitions of this museum and art gallery are displayed across multiple sections and visitors can enjoy displays that cover themes from modern art, the animal kingdom, ancient Egypt, Scottish heritage, and everything in-between.

The art galleries are renowned for being some of the best in Europe (which goes some way to explaining why the attraction has one of the highest visitor numbers in Scotland), with the French and Dutch galleries containing works that have international significance.

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But there’s plenty of home-grown masterpieces to look at too thanks to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow Boys, and Scottish colourist galleries.

Kelvingrove art gallery and museum

The Mackintosh gallery, in particular, is extremely well done and features reconstructed rooms with furniture and fittings from the original early-1900s Mackintosh-designed Ingram Street tearooms.

The attention to detail throughout Kelvingrove is incredible, much like my other favourite Glasgow Museum The Hunterian (which you can read about in my Complete Guide to The Hunterian Museum).

But while the Hunterian is quite a small space, Kelvingrove is absolutely enormous and you’ll find a mind-boggling number of things to see during your visit, from the Floating Heads art installation in the East court to the restored RAF Spitfire in the West Court.

In fact, there’s so much to see at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum that I reckon it’s practically impossible to get bored there – even if you’re not really interested in art and history.

A visit to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum makes for a great day out whether you’re on your own, exploring as a couple, or just looking for somewhere to keep the kids occupied for a few hours. And best of all – like all the top museums in Glasgow – it’s completely free!

Kelvingrove art gallery and museum

Things to do at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

This stunning building has been entrancing Glasgow’s visitors for over 115 years since opening in 1901 and from the very first moment that people step foot onto the marble floor of the central hall they’re captivated by the diversity of the exhibits on display.

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Inside the museum are over 9,000 artefacts and paintings which depict every aspect of human knowledge, from wildlife to art and literature, and all the way through to Glasgow’s industrial past.

Designed to be informative as well as entertaining, Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery has gained a reputation for being one of the best places in Glasgow for family days out, with the bonus being there’s absolutely no fee to get in just like the almost-as-popular Riverside Museum (which you can read about in my Complete Guide to The Riverside Museum).

Kelvingrove art gallery and museum

As part of a major restoration project Kelvingrove’s museum was extensively renovated over three years and was re-opened in 2006 with the exhibits organised into two halves; Life and Expression.

The Life galleries represent natural history, human history and prehistory while the Expression galleries include the fine art collections. Both themes are staged across 22 state-of-the-art galleries which are large enough to easily take up the majority of your day.

In addition to the permanent displays you’ll find a constantly changing collection of temporary exhibitions that cover subjects ranging from Leonardo Da Vinci to early life on earth and there are frequent talks by some of Britain’s top experts in the fields of art and science.

Most of the talks are free and many of them are aimed at kids, so if you’re trying to encourage an interest in either of these topics you won’t go far wrong by taking them to Kelvingrove.

As far as the art collection goes, Kelvingrove is second only to the galleries of London for the number of visitors it draws annually, with many coming to view the great art collection which is arguably one of the best in Europe.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem

Here you’ll find masterpieces from Rembrandt, Renoir, Salvador Dali and others alongside antiquities from ancient Egypt and more modern works from the celebrated Glasgow designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

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There’s also a pretty good restaurant and cafe on-site if you’re feeling a little peckish after absorbing all that history and culture and there’s a decent shop if you’re after a memento of your visit.

And on top of all that the museum and gallery building is located right in the heart of Kelvingrove Park which has a whole host of outdoor activities to enjoy if you’re itching to get outside after wandering around indoors all day.

The park is enormous and has been optimized for fun and relaxation with five bowling greens, four tennis courts, three kids play areas, an orienteering course and two cafes (which I imagine you’ll be needing after getting involved with that lot).

All in all, Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery – and Kelvingrove Park – is a must-see visitor attraction if you’re planning to spend any time in Glasgow.

The highlights

  • Like most museums in Scotland, Kelvingrove is completely free to visit.
  • There’s an incredible amount of things to see and do which makes a visit there a top family day out.
  • Whether you have got an interest in science or natural history you’re bound to be entertained in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Visiting tips

  • Take a walk around Kelvingrove Park after you’ve visited the museum. The park is massive and makes a good place to unwind from the busy city.
  • Kelvingrove Museum is also close to the Hunterian Museum which is a bit of a hidden gem in the grounds of the city university.
  • The on-site cafe is good but there are loads of cheaper alternatives in Argyle Street outside the museum.
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Photos and video

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Virtual tour

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Address and map

Argyle Street,
Glasgow,
G3 8AG

Kelvingrove is centrally located in Glasgow so just follow the tourist information signs that point towards Kelvingrove Park.

Click map for directionsGoogle Map of kelvingrove art gallery


Tickets and opening times

Pre-book your Glasgow and Kelvingrove Museum tour tickets here.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is free to enter.

  • Mon: 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Tue: 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Wed: 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thu: 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Fri: 11:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sat: 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sun: 11:00am – 5:00pm

Contact details


Facilities

Getting there: Bus stop nearby, Train station nearby

Getting around: Disabled access, Easy-access paths, Pushchair access, Stairs

On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Restaurant or cafe, Snacks, Toilets


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Craig Smith

A proud native of Scotland, Craig Smith loves writing about the country almost as much as he loves exploring it. His aim is to visit every Scottish attraction and share his experiences with the world. Follow Craig's adventures on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.