I remember, way back in first year interior design, I was sitting in our art history class and our TA who was Scottish had a very thick accent. In one of his lectures he was talking about Glasgow quite a bit. One reason was because he was from there, and loved to talk about his studies, the second reason was because of who we were studying at the time. Which was Charles Mackintosh. He told us, if we were ever in Glasgow this is where you would find all his greatest works. Fast forward, about 20 years later, I had the opportunity to hunt him down and experience some of the best collections of modern design in the country.
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery is one of the most recognizable buildings in Glasgow. Designed by John W. Simpson and E.J. Milner Allen in 1901, it was originally titled the Palace of Fine Arts. As a designer walking through the space, I’m the type of person who is looking at the context and not necessarily the content. I’m looking at how things are presented not necessarily the thing on display. As I entered the wing with all the busts, for me it’s not the sculptures that compel me closer, its the way they engage the viewer with the full spectrum of space. Busts hanging from the ceiling draws me more in than a bust of Queen Victoria.
You gotta love a museum with a sense of humour. In the front of the entrance stands an equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington sculpted by Carlo Marochetti. The statue has a traffic cone on its head. The cone has come to represent the city’s light-hearted attitude to authority in most tourist books.
Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Scotland. I took a day and traveled to Glasgow where you can find some of the biggest hitters in architecture all within a kilometer of each other. The Clyde Auditorium (Armadillo) and SSE Hyrdo both designed by Foster and Partners, are right next to one of the best looking museums in all of Europe – The Museum of Transport / The Riverside Museum design by the one and only Zaha Hadid.