Museums & Galleries Tour (Self Guided), Glasgow

One thing you have to do on your trip to Glasgow is see some of its many museums and galleries. These fabulous places offer a great insight into different aspects of Scottish art, culture, transport, science, history and more. This tour will guide you to the most interesting Museums & Galleries located in the city center.
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Museums & Galleries Tour Map

Guide Name: Museums & Galleries Tour
Guide Location: Scotland » Glasgow (See other walking tours in Glasgow)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art
  • Provand's Lordship
  • Police Museum
  • Russian Café-Gallery Cossachok
  • Transmission Art Gallery
  • Gallery of Modern Art
  • Piping Museum
St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art

1) St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art (must see)

Anyone who is religious-minded or simply curious about religion in general shouldn’t miss furthering their education at the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art.

In spite of the building’s Scottish Baroque appearance, it was built in 1989 and opened its doors to the public in 1993.

The museum is all about promoting the understanding of all the major religions. A few people know a lot about the subject, a lot of people know a little about it and little knowledge gives rise to racism. In this day and age, it is a great place to take children to help them to separate facts from fantasy and prejudice.

There are four galleries, three of which house permanent exhibitions: the Gallery of Religious Life, the Scottish Gallery (which explains how religion shaped the beliefs and culture of the country), and the Gallery of Religious Art.

The fourth gallery hosts temporary exhibitions relating to any one of the major religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Sikhism. You will see statues and paintings of Shiva, Buddha, Jesus and Moses, while stained glass panels depict various Christian saints. Of course, there are no statues or paintings of Mahomet, but there are verses from the Koran.

Why You Should Visit:
Free to enter and easy to walk around, with colorful displays, historic tributes and artistic designs on show. Also: a gift shop, a lovely Zen garden, a café, and friendly staff.
With something to interest anyone and homage to all walks of life, all visitors should be able to appreciate what this museum has to offer.

If you go in, don't miss the super views of the Cathedral and of the Necropolis from the top floor!

Opening Hours:
Tues-Thu, Sat: 10am–5pm; Fri, Sun: 11am–5pm
Provand's Lordship

2) Provand's Lordship (must see)

At the top end of Castle Street, you will find Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in Glasgow, which is the home of a fascinating house museum giving a sense of life during Medieval times.

The medieval building was constructed in 1471 and was part of St Nicholas Hospital. Although it was originally intended as accommodation for the Master of the hospital, it was inhabited by a succession of Canons from the Cathedral Chapter. In the 19th century, the Lord Prebendary of Balenock lived here. A prebend is a stipend allocated to priests of the Anglican Church. It is possible that “provand” is a corruption of prebend.

In 1906 the house was sold to a family of confectioners who opened a sweet shop at the front and had their factory at the back. They kept the shop until the end of the Second World War when they sold the building to the Provand’s Lordship Society, who wanted to restore the house to its former beauty. In 1978 the Society had no more money, so they gave the house to the City of Glasgow, who paid for renovations and opened it to the public as a house museum in 1983.

Today when you visit the house, you will see it furnished as it would have been in the 17th century, with authentic wooden furnishings of the epoch. The house has three storeys connected by a winding staircase and there are many stained glass windows to admire. Behind the house, you can visit the St Nicholas Garden where the medicinal herbs that grow in profusion fill the warm summer air with their delicate perfume.

Why You Should Visit:
Completely free to enter and a nice way to spend 30 minutes or so as you usually have the place to yourself to get immersed in it without hassle.
The fact that it is just next to the Museum of Religion and the Cathedral makes it easy to 'attraction jump' when the yawns start to appear.

Start with the video introduction for a nice background and be sure to see all three floors (the steps can be difficult for those with balance issues).
Make sure you then go to the end of St Nicholas' garden to see the building from a different angle.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Thu, Sat: 10am–5pm; Fri, Su: 11am–5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Police Museum

3) Police Museum

You will find everything you have ever wanted to know about law enforcement and some surprising facts that you never even thought about at the Police Museum, which you will find on the first floor over a Mexican restaurant in Bell Street, a part of the popular Merchant City district.

The City of Glasgow Police was established in 1779 and was the first recognised law enforcement agency in the United Kingdom. This fascinating museum tells you the history of the police from that date, through the Glasgow Police Act in 1800 to the creation of the Strathclyde Police in 1975.

The police history is spread in two rooms with wall panels, photos and illustrations that are well researched and presented in a captivating, easy to understand manner. The museum personnel is made up of ex-policemen who are very friendly and are always willing to answer questions and give you funny anecdotes about life in the police force.

There is a section on police officers who have received special honours and those who died in the course of duty. In the International Police section there is a staggering collection of uniforms and insignias from all over the world.

The last section deals with infamous crimes and criminals, and the methods used by the police for solving the felonies and arresting the offenders. There are also details about crimes that have never been solved and that are still open awaiting further advances in forensic technology.

Hours: (1 April- 31 October) Monday- Saturday: 10 am- 4:30 pm; Sunday: 12 pm- 4:30 pm; (1 November - 31 March) Tuesday: 10 am- 4:30 pm; Sunday: 12 pm- 4:30 pm.
Russian Café-Gallery Cossachok

4) Russian Café-Gallery Cossachok

This unique arts venue offers visitors the chance to experience a Russian meal in authentic surroundings along with great paintings and music. Established in 1998, it offers a great platform for both newly emerging and established artists. Besides displaying art, there are concerts every Sunday.
Transmission Art Gallery

5) Transmission Art Gallery

The Transmission Gallery is another great Glasgow art gallery where you can enjoy art, a fabulous atmosphere and even meet some artists. Established in 1983, it's run by graduates of the Glasgow School of Art and other enthusiastic volunteers. Lots of amazing art works are displayed, and there's a chance to meet artists and hear them share their experiences. Supported by the Scottish Art Council, it's also a great venue for emerging art.
Gallery of Modern Art

6) Gallery of Modern Art

The Gallery of Modern Art is to be found on the Royal Exchange Square and is housed in a building as impressive as the collection inside.

The Neo-classical building was once the townhouse of the 18th century tobacco lord, William Cunninghame of Lainshaw. It was bought by the city and after extensive reconstruction during 1827 and 1832, it became the Royal Exchange.

The reconstruction work was carried out by David Hamilton and included adding on the Corinthian pillars on the Queen Street entrance, a cupola and building a large hall at the back of the house.

Today it houses a magnificent collection of contemporary art by local and international artists. You will be able to admire works by David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Sebastio Salgado and by Scots artists Ken Currie and John Bellamy, among many others. Twice a year, temporary exhibitions on the ground floor deal with modern social issues, such as the unemployed and the homeless.

Education plays an important role in the museum and there is a floor dedicated to Education and Access with hands-on workshops and interesting lectures given by artists. There is also a cafe with free access to Internet. The library in the basement has a vast collection of books about art and artists.

Operation hours: Monday - Wednesday, Saturday: 10 am- 5 pm; Thursday until 8 pm; Friday, Sunday: 11 am -5 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Piping Museum

7) Piping Museum

There are a lot of traditions linked to Scotland: Hogmanay, haggis, tartan, kilts and most of all the bagpipe. No trip to Glasgow is complete without visiting the Piping Museum on Hope Street.

The first bagpipe perhaps originated around Egypt in the time of the great pharaohs or in Samaria – in fact its exact origins are a little hazy, but it has been recorded in several ancient texts around Europe and the Near East for many thousands of years.

How this particular instrument arrived in Scotland is a matter of speculation, but the museum deals with over 300 years of piping history: from the simple single-drone bagpipes made from goat or sheep skin and a reed taken from the edge of a pond or lake, to the elaborate affairs you see today.

In the museum you will learn how the bagpipe started out by being used by shepherds to while away the hours of guarding their flock to its becoming the national musical instrument of Scotland, played in the royal court and part of highly-prized collections by kings.

You will see bagpipes from all over Europe, including the oldest Highland bagpipe chanter in the world, which belonged to Iain Dell McKay in the 17th century. In the museum’s workshops you will see how the instrument is made and watch video documentaries about the history and culture of pipe music.

Hours: Monday- Thursday: 9 am- 7 pm; Saturday: 9 am- 12 pm.

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