Named after its location on the water’s edge in the heart of the city, just off of the main A814 road, Riverside Museum was Glasgow’s first purpose-built museum of the 21st century. Created by Glasgow Life, it can be found at the junction of the Rivers Kelvin and Clyde and is home to the city’s continually growing collections of both transport and technology memorabilia and artefacts.
These collections have been gathered over a period of centuries and reflect the important part Glasgow has played in the wider world. As it grew substantially during the Industrial Revolution, Glasgow played a significant contribution to heavy industries such shipbuilding, the manufacture of steam locomotives train and engineering works, such as bridges.
Throughout the museum there are around 90 large touch screen interactive exhibits that present artefacts in incredible detail and help tell the story of the city in more depth. Full of images, memories and films, the touchscreen displays go further in telling the fascinating stories behind the objects.
There are over 3,000 objects on display throughout Riverside, covering everything from transport methods such as skateboards and locomotives, through to more unique items such as model ships, paintings, prams and even a fibreglass Storm trooper replica.
The incredible array of objects from across the years shows the story of the people as much as the city of Glasgow itself. Visitors are even able to walk down an example of a typical cobbled street with shops from different eras, ranging from the late Victorian era up to the 1980s.
In the river itself, just outside the museum is the Tall Ship, Glenlee. It is now the UK’s only floating Clyde-built sailing ship in existence and is free to enter, even for people who have not been to the rest of the museum. People can explore this impressive ship and discover a range of nautical delights to entertain the children such as a play area in the cargo hold for the under 5s and even a mouse hunt throughout the vessel.
The old home of the former Museum of Transport was essentially a very large open plan shed with a large mezzanine floor. The vast space of the former premises made up for what it lacked in mod cons and design, and when it came to creating a new purpose-built facility, it was important that the sense of scale remained firmly in place.
The new museum was designed by internationally renowned architect, Dame Zaha Hadid. Following a 4 year period of construction, Riverside opened in 2011 with thousands of objects from the city’s world-famous collections displayed inside.
Hadid herself said of the museum that “The complex geometries of the extruded design continue Glasgow’s rich engineering traditions and will be a part of the city’s future as a centre of innovation.”
Grand scale buildings like the Riverside don’t come cheap however. The Riverside Museum cost a total of £74m. Glasgow’s City Council contributed the substantial bulk of the funds, with a further £18m being granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A staggering £5m was raised just from the general public donating money to keep the museum afloat.
As well as housing many of the existing collections of the Glasgow Museum of Transport, the Riverside collection also now includes a whole SAR Class 15F 4-8-2 steam locomotive, No.3007. It was built by the Glasgow-based North British Locomotive Company at its Polmadie Works in 1945, and it was was bought in late 2006 from Transnet, the South African transport conglomerate.
A visit to the Riverside provides the ultimate day out for families and visitors of all ages, being one of the main tourist attractions in Glasgow, and chock full of interesting facts, artefacts, displays and vehicles. A shop, café and restaurant onsite help make the experience even more enjoyable!