Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is Glasgow’s major public contemporary art venue and plays host to a regular programme of temporary exhibitions including work by local, national and international artists. GoMa has held major exhibitions for the likes of Karla Black, Jacqueline Donachie, Ellie Harrison and Fiona Tan.
GoMa is housed in an eighteenth-century neoclassical townhouse in the centre of the city, originally built for Glasgow Tobacco Lord William Cunninghame. Cunninghame had ties with slavery through his dealings in American tobacco and, in later years, Caribbean sugar, both of which were grown on plantations worked by enslaved people. Cunninghame had lived and worked in America and knew the importance of the slave trade to many Glasgow businessmen.
In the early nineteenth century, the building was briefly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland before it was sold to subscribers to Glasgow’s Royal Exchange. The Royal Exchange was a meeting place for wealthy Glasgow merchants and was administered by James Ewing of Strathleven, a slave owner with business interests in Jamaican sugar. Ewing commissioned architect David Hamilton to make significant changes to the building, including the addition of Corinthian pillars and a cupola. The mirrored pediment above the columns is by Niki de Saint Phalle and was commissioned for GoMa’s opening in 1996.