“The Riverside Museum building was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and engineers Buro Happold. The internal exhibitions and displays were designed by Event Communications. Replacing facilities at the city’s Kelvin Hall, the new purpose-built museum is the first to be opened in the city since the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in 1993 and is expected to attract up to 1 million visitors a year. Although containing approximately the same floor space as the previous museum facility at 7,500 sq m, it creates a more environmentally stable home for Glasgow’s significant Transport Technology collections.”
The above is part of the official description according to Wikipedia but having visited the museum in the last few days I am not sure what to make of it. The indoor displays are extremely impractical in that you have rows of cars 60 feet up in the air and almost impossible to see. From a creative design point of view I can see the plusses, but from a purely practical point of view of the viewer it is almost impossible to see some of the items e.g. there is a magnificent little Messerschmitt “bubble” car on the top row and you can barely see it.
They have some wonderful transport items on display from steam engines, cycles, buses, cars, through to skate boards(?) but there does not seem to d be any discernible “theme” or “themes” to the display, or if there was it escaped me. The hall has a feeling of a very large aircraft hangar and they have utilized space well but it all feels a bit of a mish mash.
On the day I visited there were lots of parents with children and staff of the museum were organising activities for children’s groups. It all seemed a bit haphazard though!
One bizarre exhibit was a caravan belonging to some of the “peace protesters” at the Faslane nuclear submarine base. It seemed completely out of place in this museum and smacked of “political correctness” and in line with the SNP political agenda.
Another strange exhibit was a huge steam train that had been sold to South Africa. It was a magnificent piece of engineering and there was a small sign giving details of the train. However, at the other side of the train was a large display about apartheid in South Africa and the fact that blacks could not obtain jobs on the railway and only travel in designated “non white” carriages. Quite why the focus was on the political scene in SA escaped me as I thought the focus of the museum was “transport.” Again it seemed that a PC agenda was being followed.
After about one and a half hours I took my leave of the building and thinking “what did I make of it?” Well, I would definitely recommend a visit but be prepared for an unconventional museum. I do not feel it is well sign posted inside, took me ages to track down the stairs to the upper floor, I did find a nice little coffee shop which served a very good cappuccino and scone once I got up there.
I spoke to my friend who I stayed with in Glasgow and she voiced the same opinion as me about the inaccessibility of many exhibits and that is was more about the “design concept” at the expense of the needs of museum visitors.
But do go and make up your own mind………….I would still recommend it.