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Glasgow Museums Resource Centre: The city’s hidden art collection

Tue 10 May 2011 14:11


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Glasgow is famed for its museums, with Kelvingrove Art Gallery, The Burrell Collection and the soon-to-be opened Riverside Museum just some of the internationally renowned collections that draw millions of visitors every year. Yet these incredible collections house only two per cent of the artwork and artefacts currently owned by the City of Glasgow, with the others safely stored away at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.

This vast repository houses over 1.4 million items and is the largest such facility in Europe. Parts of it resemble the storage warehouse from Indiana Jones, with row upon row of carefully catalogued boxes containing their hidden treasures, but much of it is accessible to the public and The Hour’s Anita Manning was given a tour by Learning Assistant Anna Lehr.

Among the exhibits are collections of armour, stuffed animals, sculptures, paintings and vintage cars, with special areas dedicated to different subjects.

In the armoury, medieval suits of armour are placed alongside swords and other weaponry, with Anna sharing an interesting fact with Anita: “Compared to modern day infantry [a suit of armour] was not that heavy. A suit of armour weighed about 25kg. A modern day infantry, a marine, has about 15kg to carry in his equipment.”

In the World Cultures pod Anita was shown a Ghanaian coffin designed in the shape of a fish and sculptures from Papua New Guinea. In the Faith-based collections she saw sculptures of Buddha and Krishna.

Going even further back to the time of the Pharaohs the facility houses ancient Canopic Jars, used to store the lungs, liver, stomach and intestines of the rulers who were mummified. These often prove to be a huge hit with visiting children, who are fascinated by the process of mummifying a body, placing it in a wooden coffin and then sealing it in a stone sarcophagus.

For something a little bit more contemporary, Curator for European Art Hugh Stevenson showed Anita the work of the Glasgow Boys, a group of painters who rose to fame around a hundred years ago.

“They were really quite revolutionary,” he told her. “They turned art on its head. They challenged the old academies in London and Edinburgh with their new style of art, which was influenced more by continental art.”

Although the Resource Centre is open to members of the public, tours must be booked in advance. For more information visit the Centre’s website.


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