The Kelvin Hall is now open to the public following completion of the first stage of its £35million makeover project.
The Kelvin Hall renovation is part of the University of Glasgow’s £1billion campus development plan. Research and teaching labs, seminar rooms, postgraduate study spaces, a conservation studio and a conference suite will all now be available for student use.
12 new postgraduate programmes offered by the Colleges of Arts and Social Sciences will be delivered in the new Hunterian teaching and conference spaces, as well as a public programme taught by students and curators.
The renovated multi-use facility also comprises Glasgow’s largest fitness gym, museum collections storage, and the digital resources from the National Library of Scotland.
The Glasgow Club health and fitness centre is the first section of the building to open to the public; the centre boasts a multi-purpose sports hall, a gymnastics and martial arts hall, and three fitness studios.
Alongside the creation of the sports centre, a huge variety of artifacts have been assembled at Kelvin Hall during phase-one. 1.5 million pieces from Glasgow’s civic collection and Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum were recently compiled and stored in the building after a painstaking process. These objects were previously scattered across the city in nine separate and “very inaccessible” locations.
Director of The Hunterian, Professor David Gaimster said: “The Kelvin Hall phase-one project is going to enable us to bring together all of our collections […] and bring back this incredible asset dating back to The Enlightenment and not only create new access for educational audiences including the University of Glasgow but also connect collections which have been entirely fragmented for more than 200 years.”
Hunterian staff began moving into their new offices in Kelvin Hall at the end of July. Visitors at Kelvin Hall will also be able to access digital collections from the National Library of Scotland. These items from Scotland’s history include books, newspapers, and records – some of which are unavailable elsewhere.
The Moving Image Archive – which contains more than 100 years of Scottish history on over 60,000 film reels, videotapes, and digital files – is also accessible at the facility and film posters and scripts will be on display.
Previously, the Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, Professor Anton Muscatelli stated that the completed Kelvin Hall area will be “the best museum district outside of London.”
He continued: “Glasgow’s riverside and west end area will become a cultural corridor from the Clyde to Kelvingrove for academia and tourism, to rival South Kensington in London which is home to the V&A, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum.”
The Kelvin Hall building sits opposite the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, while The Hunterian and Riverside museums are both situated nearby. The second phase of the Kelvin Hall project will focus on expanding the museum exhibitions on display. A 16,000 sq m hall, once occupied by the Transport Museum, will be transformed into a new home for the Hunterian Museum. Until then, the collections will primarily be contained in storage and access will be provided through a programme of talks, tours, collections study, and learning activities. Artifacts stored at Kelvin Hall are available to view upon request. Objects on display in the existing public galleries at the University of Glasgow (The Hunterian Museums, Art Gallery, and The Mackintosh House) will remain in their current locations.
Kelvin Hall opened in 1927 as an exhibition venue for musical acts. Over the last century, it has served as a sports arena and Glasgow’s Transport Museum. The Riverside Museum began hosting the transport collection in 2011.
The University of Glasgow has invested £11.5m into the renovation. The project is a collective partnership between Glasgow University, the Hunterian, Glasgow Museums, the National Library of Scotland and Glasgow Club. The total development is estimated to be completed by 2020.