Glasgow West EndGlasgowRegions of Scotland

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum Visitor Guide

Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum is the highlight of Kelvingrove Park, the 84-acre green area in the city’s West End. The museum houses an impressive collection of over 8,000 objects in 22 themed galleries that display an astonishing variety of artefacts including everything from art to weaponry, animals, and aircraft.

The art collection includes works by the Old Masters, French Impressionists, Dutch Renaissance, and Scottish Colourists, and the museum also hosts a variety of temporary art exhibitions throughout the year.

Kelvingrove Gallery Museum
Address:Argyle Street,
G3 8AG
Opening Hours:Monday - Thursday and Saturday: 10 am-5 pm
Friday and Sunday: 11 am-5 pm
Admission Price:Free
Temporary paid exhibitions
Parking:Paid car park on-site
Free parking for blue badge holders
Contact:0141 276 9599
Facilities:Toilets, disabled access, hearing loop, baby changing, cafe, restaurant, shop, cloakroom,
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Situated in the centre of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is the focal point of the beautiful Kelvingrove Park, the 84-acre green space 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 floors, and visitors can enjoy displays that cover themes from modern art, the animal kingdom and ancient Egypt to Scottish heritage.

The galleries are renowned for being some of the finest in Europe, which goes some way to explaining why Kelvingrove has one of the highest visitor numbers of all free attractions in Scotland.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem

There are lots 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 another favourite Glasgow museum, The Hunterian. But while The Hunterian is quite compact, 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 it’s practically impossible to get bored. A visit to this attraction makes for a great day out whether you’re on your own, exploring as a couple, or 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 Musuem

The Highlights

1: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is housed in a striking red sandstone building which is a masterpiece of Spanish Baroque architecture. The collection inside the building is diverse and vast, with 22 themed galleries displaying an astonishing 8000 objects

2: One of the key highlights of a visit to the art gallery is the opportunity to view Salvador Dali’s iconic painting, ‘Christ of Saint John of the Cross’. This masterpiece captures Dali’s unique blend of surrealism and is one of the most celebrated pieces in the entire collection.

3: The museum is a fantastic place to take kids. There are so many displays they’re guaranteed to be kept entertained for hours, plus they can burn off energy afterwards in the Kelvingrove play park.

Visiting Tips

1: Kelvingrove offers free daily tours conducted by knowledgeable guides. These tours provide detailed insights into the exhibits and the history of the museum itself. However, to participate in these tours, you should arrive early as they’re popular and spaces fill up quickly.

2: Kelvingrove Museum is also close to the Hunterian Museum which is a bit of a hidden gem in the grounds of the University of Glasgow.

3: The museum has a cafe where you can take a break and enjoy some local treats. While the on-site café is good, there are lots of cheaper alternatives on Argyle Street outside the museum.

Kelvingrove 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 number of exhibits on display.

Inside the museum are over 8,000 artefacts and paintings which depict every aspect of human knowledge, from wildlife to art and literature, all the way through to Glasgow’s industrial heritage. Designed to be informative as well as entertaining, Kelvingrove has gained a reputation for being one of the best places in Glasgow for family days out, with the bonus of being free to enter.

As part of a major restoration project, the museum was extensively renovated over three years from 2003 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 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 a day.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Musuem

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. Inside, 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 good restaurant and café on-site if you’re feeling peckish after absorbing all that history and culture, and there’s a quality gift shop if you’d like a memento of your visit.

And on top of all that, the building is located in the heart of Kelvingrove Park which has a range of outdoor activities to enjoy if you’re itching to get outside after wandering around indoors all day. The park is enormous and features five bowling greens, four tennis courts, three play parks, an orienteering course and two cafés.

Kelvingrove Museum

Things to Do

Embark on a cultural exploration: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum boasts 22 themed galleries that house over 8,000 objects. From rare artefacts and Renaissance art to Egyptian relics, there’s a world of history and culture waiting to be discovered. Plan for a full afternoon to see all of the highlights of the collection.

Attend a daily recital: One of the museum’s most distinct features is the grand pipe organ, the centrepiece of the main hall. Every day, visitors are treated to a free organ recital with a varied programme that caters to all musical tastes. The sound of the organ reverberating around the hall is an experience not to be missed.

Explore the Natural World: The museum’s natural history section is a treasure trove of fascinating exhibits. From Sir Roger the stuffed elephant to interactive displays about animals and their habitats, there’s a huge amount of things to see and do that will captivate children and adults alike.

Relax in the Kelvingrove Café: After a busy day of exploring, the Kelvingrove Café is a great place to rest and refuel. The café serves a range of delicious treats from sandwiches to burgers and puddings. Don’t forget to try their yummy scones and handmade chocolate brownies!

Participate in a workshop: The museum offers a variety of workshops and educational activities that provide an opportunity to learn new skills like painting or sculpture under the guidance of skilled instructors.

Kelvingrove Museum Glasgow

The Hunterian Museum. University of Glasgow, 82 Hillhead St, Glasgow G12 8QQ. 12-minute walk.
A free-to-enter museum located inside The University of Glasgow. The museum features display cases and artefacts from many areas of study including zoology, medicine and history.

The Riverside Museum of Transport. 100 Pointhouse Rd, Govan, Glasgow G3 8RS. 17-minute walk.
A modern museum that explores the history of transport with interactive displays and one of the largest collections of rare cars, trains and motorbikes in Scotland. Entry is free.

The Tall Ship. 150 Pointhouse Rd, Stobcross Road, Govan, Glasgow G3 8RS. 18-minute walk.
Located next to the Transport Museum on the bank of the River Clyde. The Tall Ship is a fully restored Victorian sailing ship that allows visitors to explore the historic vessel from bow to stern. There is a café and gift shop inside. Entry is free.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens. 730 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0UE. 21-minute walk.
27-acre botanic garden in the heart of Glasgow. The gardens are acclaimed for the Victorian cast-iron glasshouse, Kibble Palace. Entry is free.

Kelvingrove Park. Glasgow G3 6BY. 1-minute walk.
Expansive recreational park in the centre of Glasgow that is famed for its monuments and statues. There are footpaths that follow the River Kelvin, a lawn bowls and tennis centre, a children’s play park, a café and the Kelvingrove Museum which is located on the southwest corner of the park.

Can you take photos in Kelvingrove Art Gallery?

Visitors are permitted to take photos in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum without using a flash. Photos are not allowed in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition.

Is Kelvingrove free?

There is no fee to visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It is one of the most popular free attractions in Scotland.

What’s in Kelvingrove Art Gallery?

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has a collection of over 8,000 artefacts and artworks across 22 themed galleries.

The galleries are:
Ground Floor (G): East: Expression – The Glasgow Boys, Looking at Design, Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style, Looking at Art.

Ground Floor (G): West: Life – Life, Glasgow Stories, Ancient Egypt, Creatures of the Past, Scotland’s Wildlife.

1st Floor (1): East: Expression – Dutch Art, The Scottish Colourists, Fragile Art, French Art, Every Picture Tells a Story, Scottish Identity in Art, Picture Promenade, Sculpture Highlights, Glasgow and the World.

1st Floor (1): West: Life – Scotland’s First People, Conflict and Consequence, Cultural Survival, Discovery Centres, Life in the Rainforest, Study Centre, Mini-Museum.

What visitor facilities are there at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum?

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has a café, gift shop and public toilets. Visit the official website for updated information on available facilities.

Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.