The Out About Scotland complete guide to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow
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
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.
But there’s plenty of home-grown masterpieces to look at too thanks to the Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow Boys, and Scottish colourist galleries.
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 of 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!
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.
Inside the museum there are over 9000 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).
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.
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.
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.
What I liked about this attraction
- It’s free!
- There’s an incredible amount of things to see and do
- It’s perfect for families
My top tips
- Take a walk around Kelvingrove Park after you’ve visited the museum
- 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 cafe is good but there are loads of cheaper alternatives in Argyle Street outside the museum
Photos and video
Address and map
Kelvingrove is centrally located in Glasgow so just follow the tourist information signs that point towards Kelvingrove Park.
Prices and opening times
- 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
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is free to enter at all times.
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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