#PrincessaPetra @ KelvinGrove Art Gallery and Museum
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Just when you probably thought the Royal Endeavors – Scotland adventures got all of my creative juice flowing while enchanting your perception in my previous yet marvelous episodes, I dare to challenge you again with yet another fantastic masterpiece revolving around one of Glasgow’s most popular free visitor attraction – Kelvingrove Art Museum and Gallery.
By now, you might be well aware of the awe, amazement and respect I proudly stand in for Scotland, a country which I solemnly appreciate for its magical, mythical and mystical relevance and absolutely praise for its healthy endeavors, such as doctors prescribing quality time to be spent in nature for a series of conditions raging from depression to diabetes and treating knife crime among young people as health issue, an inspired strategy which has led to a dramatic decrease in stabbings across the country. If these facts don’t impress you, I don’t know what will but I am giving it a try anyway.
By now, I have taken you higher on the wings of good fortune and wild imagination above two of Scotland’s most famous and impressive castles, Stirling and Inveraray. We have admired the world famous Unicorn Tapestries together and cat-walked elegantly through extravagant decors pertaining to the iconic Duke of Argyll Gothic Revival country mansion, we have deepened the symbolical meaning enriching the historical references and mystified every peculiar detail in order to set the tone high for the fabulous surprises forthcoming.
Now it is time for another superb jewel embellishing Scotland’s crown of significance, the outstanding Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the country’s most visited free attraction. With 22 themed, state-of-the-art galleries displaying an astonishing 8000 objects, the collections are extensive, wide-ranging and internationally-significant, as you will have the pleasure to discover in my dedicated blog post.
They include natural history, arms and armour, art from many art movements and periods of history and much more. Welcome to Heaven, my Lords of the Isles!
Monday to Thursday: 10:00 – 17:00
Friday: 11:00 – 17:00
Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00
Sunday: 11:00 – 17:00
+44 (0)141 276 9599
The impressive building, a Spanish Baroque-style palace on the banks of the River Kelvin constructed of Dumfriesshire red sandstone, opened as an art gallery in 1901. It was reopened in July 2006 after a three-year, £28 million major refurbishment and restoration project.
The refurbished building is an attraction in its own right and Kelvingrove welcomes families, its displays having been designed with children in mind. Besides all the exhibits, Kelvingrove has a restaurant, a café and a gift shop.
The centrepiece of the Centre Hall is a concert pipe organ constructed and installed by Lewis & Co. The organ was originally commissioned as part of the Glasgow International Exhibition, held in Kelvingrove Park in 1901. The organ was installed in the concert hall of the exhibition, which was capable of seating 3,000 people. The Centre Hall of the then newly completed Art Gallery and Museum was intended from the beginning to be a space in which to hold concerts. When the 1901 exhibition ended, a Councillor urged the Glasgow Corporation (now Glasgow Council) to purchase the organ, stating that without it, “the art gallery would be a body without a soul“. In 2006 a unique series of daily organ recitals was introduced.
I had the honor to enjoy my first organ recital at Kelvingrove due to an amazing synchronicity, as always, and the very inspired thought not to leave the location during our Glasgow tour break. We could have been anywhere around, including the prestigious galleries surrounding the Centre Hall. It was a truly majestic experience and I am grateful for having had the opportunity to travel through time on the wings of such a soulful instrument. I befriended a charming elder lady from Melbourne who had joyfully agreed to share a table with us for my veal sandwich prior to concert I had no idea of. We naturally started a thrilling conversation about my stay in Scotland and where I come from. She was in love with Romania since her trip around the country a long time ago with her physician husband, in spite of the negative rumors they heard, therefore I am glad to have reinforced the pleasant ones by presenting my country in a very positive light. We don’t coincidentally meet people at an oustanding Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow during an organ concert, do we?
The most famous painting on display at Kelvingrove is the Salvador Dali masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’. The copyright of this painting was bought by the curator at the time after a meeting with Dalí himself.
Sir Roger the Asian elephant is another big museum attraction. The Asian elephant is one of Kelvingrove’s oldest and most popular exhibits – but do you know his back story? Sir Roger joined a zoo in Glasgow in the late 19th century – but by 1900 he was 27 and acting aggressively. The story goes that he had too much testosterone from lack of a mate, and so he had to be put down – handlers did so by presenting him with his morning meal then shooting him. Poor Sir Roger; shot while having his breakfast for being too randy.
There is even a Spitfire plane hanging from the ceiling of the west court. The Spitfire LA198 is a Mark 21 Spitfire, which was built in 1944. It features a Rolls Royce Griffon 61 engine and a five blade propeller. It flew with the 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron between 1947-1949.
There is a popular myth in Glasgow, that the building was accidentally built back-to-front, and the architect jumped from one of the towers in despair, when he realised his mistake. This is only an urban myth. The grand entrance was always intended to face into Kelvingrove Park.
If all these amazing highlights are not impressive enough, there is plenty more to see at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, such as:
The Glasgow Style Gallery
Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style Gallery features furniture, decorative panels and light fittings from the Ingram Street Tearooms, designed by Mackintosh in 1900-1912. The reconstructed rooms include the Ladies Luncheon Room. One of the most magnificent objects is the gesso panel, The Wassail which Mackintosh created in 1900.
The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin
This large and intricate stained glass window by Irish artist Harry Clarke (1889-1931) is over 4.5 meters high and is comprised of 20 panels. It was commissioned in 1923 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for the convent chapel in Dowanhill, Glasgow.
The ‘Amen’ Glass
Among the most prominent examples of Jacobite glass, which formed a key part of the constellation of material objects associated with the silent communication of treasonable sympathies in the period from 1689 to 1760. Jacobite glasses often have a tear shaped bubble in the stem, symbolizing mourning for the absence of the royal house.
The Portrait of Van Gogh
Van Gogh’s portrait of the Glasgow art dealer Alexander Reid, painted in 1887, was initially thought to be a self-portrait by Van Gogh, due to the uncanny likeness to the artist. This was eventually corrected by Alexander Reid’s family. Reid and Van Gogh had been close friends, having briefly lived in the same accommodation in Paris in the late 1880’s.
A 3-dimensional model of our solar system showing the positions and movements of the Sun, planets and moons as they were understood in the 1820s. One of the largest and most complicated orreries in the world, it is even more remarkable because it was made by self-taught John Fulton, from Ayrshire, as a young man.
A Man in Armour by Rembrandt
The Dutch Gallery includes Glasgow’s collection of Old Masters and a collection of Hague School paintings. The city’s collection of 17th century Dutch and Flemish Old Masters is one of the largest and finest in the UK and constitutes a collection of international significance.
Considering Glasgow Museums’ rich and varied collection is a Recognised Collection of National Significance, the displays are extensive and wide-ranging to include:
Scottish Art including galleries dedicated to the Glasgow Boys and Scottish Colourists;
Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style – a gallery dedicated to one of Glasgow’s most famous sons and the style movement which was the UK’s contribution to Art Nouveau;
Natural history including dinosaurs and other prehistoric mammals;
Arms and armour – this collection is of international significance, including the R L Scott bequest, which had been one of the finest private collections of European arms and armour in the world;
Ancient Egypt – this collection is of national significance, featuring several objects of unique importance linked to historical figures;
Scottish history and archaeology including a wealth of material relating to the early settlements across Scotland and life on St Kilda;
World cultures including nationally and internationally significant objects from the Americas, Africa, South Asia and Oceania.
A composition which caught my attention was The Druids – Bringing in the Mistletoe, which was jointly pained by George Henry and Edward Atkinson Hornel in 1890, considered to be hugely innovative and almost shocking piece of art for its era, particularly for the daring and revolutionary use of gold leaf which wowed spectators across Europe.
It is nevertheless its monumental spirituality that captivated me – the expression in the druids, the moon-like mound, and the bright colours which have almost never been used to depict druids in this manner. The druids were member of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures, such as religious leaders, legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals, and political advisors, who are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form.
Alexander Cornelius Polyhistor referred to the druids as philosophers and called their doctrine of the immortality of the soul and reincarnation or metempsychosis “Pythagorean“, a doctrine which statea that human souls “are immortal and after a prescribed number of years they commence a new life in a new body. Given my appetite for religious and spiritual theories anx practices, I find this information truly fascinating and I feel blessed to have found myself marching colors and standing in front of such an important masterpiece. The attraction I felt towards this vivid painting was undeniably powerful.