Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses one of Europe’s great art collections. It is the most popular free-to-enter visitor attraction in Scotland and the most visited museum in the United Kingdom outside London. The building itself features an elaborate baroque exterior made from Scottish red sandstone.
Reopened after a major refurbishment in 2006, Kelvingrove contains 22 galleries with exhibitions and displays ranging from ancient Egyptian artefacts to medieval armour and natural history. The art collection includes works by Rembrandt, Titian, Dali, Picasso, the Scottish Colourists and the Glasgow Boys.
The museum is situated in Kelvingrove Park, which was once part of a private estate of fields and woodland owned by colonial merchant Patrick Colquhoun who traded in commodities produced by enslaved labour. By 1870 Colquhoun’s old mansion, Kelvingrove House, had been refurbished to serve as Glasgow’s first municipal museum – the precursor of today’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
The massive new Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery was conceived as a way of adding status to Glasgow’s position as one of the world’s leading industrial cities and the Second City of the Empire. The funds for its construction were raised from the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1888 which was a celebration of Glasgow’s links with the British Empire. To celebrate its completion a second International Exhibition was held in 1901 that reinforced Glasgow’s position at the heart of the empire.