It’s hard to believe, but this week marks the 10th anniversary since the Kelvingrove Museum re-opened its doors to the public after a major revamp.
In that time it has welcomed over 14 million visitors following the three-year, £27.9 million refurbishment.
To celebrate the anniversary, Dr Jim Hunter, Honorary Director of Music and Chris Nickol staged a unique organ recital. They played 10 pieces of music selected by the public, including another rendition of David Bowie’s Life on Mars, which made Chris a social media sensation earlier this year.
The organ, which was built in 1901 by Lewis and Co, of London, holds the record for playing the only free daily organ recital in the world. Musicians have already performed more than 3,000 concerts, which have been enjoyed by over 70,000 people a year.
The impact of the reopening of Kelvingrove Museum on tourism in Glasgow and the city’s position on the international stage is indisputable. Glasgow is Scotland’s cultural, creative and economic powerhouse. It is the fifth most visited UK city by international tourists and domestic visitors made more than 2.1 million trips to Glasgow last year. Kelvingrove received in excess of 1.3 million visitors during 2015. It remains the number one thing to do in Glasgow and is Scotland’s third most popular free visitor attraction; it has also just been awarded a TripAdvisor 2016 Expert’s Choice Award.
Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham, said: “Kelvingrove is a magnificent and much-loved building, which has brought the world of art, history and natural history to life for visitors for more than 100 years. The outstanding refurbishment, which was unveiled to great applause ten years ago today, preserved the building and collection – and all the joy and discovery that comes with it – for generations to come.”
Scottish author, broadcaster, journalist and Kelvingrove aficionado Muriel Gray added: “Is it really ten years since the striking restoration of this marvellous building was revealed to almost unanimous praise by all who poured through its refurbished doors?
“Ask any Glaswegian for their memories of Kelvingrove and emotions will flood out, emotions not normally associated with a museum. Many remember a first date or, like me, marvelling as a child at the amazing and occasionally bizarre array of animals on display. Others easily recall a favourite painting or exhibit, but common to all is a love of the building itself. It is beautiful and that beauty is enduring. It is a symbol of our city’s ambition of international status, yet underlines the value we place on social equality.”
Kelvingrove has always been free to enter. It first opened to the public in 1901 when it was a major part of the Glasgow International Exhibition and its original collections came mainly from the McLellan Galleries and the City Industrial Museum, which had been opened in 1870 at the former Kelvingrove Mansion. The building originally cost more than £250,000 to complete, using profits from the 1888 International Exhibition at Kelvingrove Park, public subscription and funding from the Town Council. In 2006 it re-opened after a three year £27.9 million restoration, which included almost £13 million from the Kelvingrove Refurbishment Appeal, Scotland’s most successful ever cultural fundraising campaign.
The successful restoration of one of Glasgow’s most loved public buildings has ensured that Kelvingrove is in a position to serve the city and its visitors for another 100 years.