15 of the Best Museums in Glasgow to Visit

There are endless fascinating things to do in Glasgow – from world-class museums to buzzing nightlife, medieval cathedral to quirky street murals, and so on.

This city has always been a cultural leader. It was crowned the cultural capital of Europe in 1990, one of the first European cities to have received this honour. So, one of the many things Glasgow does very well is art and culture. 

The amount of museums in this city is pretty impressive. Also, most of them are free to visit. So, you don’t have to worry about the cost while you enjoy the exquisite collection of art and history. 

Even if you visit this vibrant city on a day trip from Edinburgh, you must add some of them to your Glasgow itinerary.

From fossils of 330 million years old trees to the reconstructed house of a celebrated architect, and everything in between, we chart the best museums and galleries that Glasgow has to offer.

Best Museums in Glasgow, Scotland

1. Riverside Museum

Situated at the confluence of River Clyde and River Kelvin, this is one of the best family-friendly tourist attractions in Glasgow.

This transport museum has an impressive collection of 3,000 objects showcasing Glasgow’s advancement in transportation and technology over the years.

Designed by renowned architect Dame Zaha Hadid, it opened in the summer of 2011 and took almost four years to build.

Riverside Museum

There are interactive explanatory screens full of images and videos that tell the story behind the objects. From automobiles and locomotives to skateboards, prams and even transport-themed paintings – You can easily spend a few hours browsing through the huge collection of Riverside Museum.

We particularly loved the moving display of various model ships. Also, there is a reconstructed old cobbled street in Glasgow.

If you are feeling hungry from all the exploring, there’s a cafe serving fresh soup, sandwiches and cakes. Also, there are pop-up food trucks just outside the museum selling snacks, drinks and ice cream in summer.

Next to Riverside is another notable Glasgow attraction, The Tall Ship, Glenlee. Admission is free for both of them.

Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm. Friday and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.

2. Burrell Collection

If you love art and history, the eclectic display of the Burrell Collection is bound to make you delighted. Located inside the Pollok Country Park in Glasgow, The Burrell Collection is a museum and art gallery.

It holds one of the greatest art collections ever accumulated by one single person.

Glasgow shipping magnate and avid art collector Sir William Burrell and his wife, Lady Burrell, donated 9000 objects from their personal collection to the City of Glasgow in 1944.

Burrell Collection

The purpose-built museum was opened in 1983. It sits adjacent to the woodlands of the country park.

The extensive collection includes Chinese art, stained glass, arms and armour, tapestries and Islamic art.

Look out for paintings and sculptures by renowned artists like Manet, Rodin, Degas and Cézanne. The collection spans around 6000 years of history.

To Reach Burrell Collection, catch a train from Glasgow Central Station to Pollokshaws West, which takes only 10 minutes. Burrell is a few minutes walk from the station. Also, many local buses run frequently from the city centre to Pollokshaws Road.

Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm. Friday and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.

3. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

If you are short on time and plan to visit only one museum in Glasgow, it has to be the Kelvingrove. The stunning Spanish Baroque-styled building is a landmark of Scotland.

Founded in 1901, Kelvingrove is one of the must-visit tourist attractions in Glasgow. You can easily spend a few hours discovering the extensive collection of 8000 objects within its 22 themed galleries. Look out for the famous painting by Salvador Dali, ‘Christ of Saint John of the Cross’.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

In the animals section, you will find an original Spitfire plane hanging from the ceiling. Built in 1946, the Spitfire LA198 served with the 602 (City of Glasgow) Auxiliary Squadron.

Another popular display at Kelvingrove is ‘The Floating Heads’ installation by Sophie Cave in the East Court of the museum. It shows over 50 faces hanging from the roof, showing different facial expressions.

There are free organ recitals in Kelvingrove from Monday to Saturday at 1 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. If you are here around these hours, definitely attend the event.

Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm. Friday and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.

4. Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery

The Hunterian is a collection of museums located in different buildings on the University of Glasgow campus in the West End. Founded by Scottish anatomist and physician Dr William Hunter, Hunterian is the oldest public museum in Scotland.

Though not as popular as other museums in the city, The Hunterian is a true hidden gem of Glasgow and is definitely worth a visit.
Originally built on the High Street in 1807, The Hunterian moved to its current location in 1870.

Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery

Here you will find an impressive collection of Roman artefacts from the Antonine Wall, frontiers of the Roman Empire in Scotland.

The Hunterian Art Gallery, which lies not too far from the museum,  features a wide range of masterpieces by several renowned artists, like Rembrandt, Rubens, Chardin and Stubbs, Glasgow Boys, the Scottish Colourist, James McNeill Whistler and Charles Mackintosh.

Watch out for the beautiful bas-relief door of the gallery. It was designed by the famous Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi.

The Mackintosh House is also part of the Hunterian Art Gallery. It’s the reconstructed home of renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, artist Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. They lived here from 1906 to 1914. You will get to see a great collection of works of Mackintosh.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm and closed on Monday.

5. Gallery of Modern Art

Close to George Square and Buchanan Street lies the Gallery of Modern Art. It is a centre for contemporary and modern art in Glasgow.

Opened in 1996, GOMA is the most visited modern art gallery in Scotland.

This neoclassical building was built in 1778 for William Cunninghame, a wealthy merchant.

Gallery of Modern Art

They host various exhibitions, workshops and events all year round. It contains four galleries, a library and a gallery shop. There is also a permanent display that shows the history of the building. Here you will find works of David Hockney, Sebastião Salgado, and Andy Warhol.

In front of the gallery, you will find the famous equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, with a traffic cone on his head.

Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm. Friday and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.

6. St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art

Located just a few yards from Glasgow Cathedral, the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is named after the founder and patron saint of the city, St. Mungo.

Opened in 1993, it has a vast collection of religious art and artefacts and was constructed on the site of the Bishops’ Castle, the residence of the bishops of Glasgow until 1689.

Away from the busy streets, this museum is a place of serenity and peacefulness. Salvador Dali’s masterpiece Christ of Saint John of the Cross was on display here until 2006, when the painting was moved to Kelvingrove.

Some of the religious collections of this museum include an Egyptian mummy, an Islamic prayer rug from Turkey, sculptures of several world divinities and Christian stained glass windows.

Have a relaxing lunch at the cafe overlooking the first Zen garden in Britain.

Right across the road from the museum is Provand’s Lordship, the oldest house in the city. Also, Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis are just a few minutes walk from here.

7. The Scottish Football Museum

Located in Hampden Park, this is the first national football museum in Europe, and it is a must-see visitor attraction for all football lovers visiting Glasgow.

It houses an impressive collection of over 2000 objects related to the history and heritage of football in Scotland from the 19th century to the present time.

You can visit the museum and the stadium individually or have a combined tour. The combined tour costs £13 per adult.

The huge football-related collection includes the world’s oldest national trophy, the Scottish Cup and the oldest cap in the world, among many others.

The tour will take you to the underground roadway, team changing rooms and manager’s dugouts of the stadium. You would also see the Scottish Football Hall of Fame. It takes about 15 minutes to get here by bus from the Glasgow city centre.

8. Fossil Grove

This bustling city is full of parks and gardens. They provide peaceful heaven away from the bustling crowds of the city. Named for Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1887, Victoria Park is one of the prettiest parks in Glasgow.

There is a large pond inside the park with two small islands connected by iron bridges. It is an ideal place for a gentle stroll, popular with local dog walkers and runners. In spring, you will find beautiful cherry blossom trees here.

Victoria Park houses The Fossil Grove Museum – one of Glasgow’s most unique attractions and a hidden gem.

Fossil Grove, Glasgow

Who knew that you could find 330 million years old trees here? In the late 19th century, during the construction of Victoria Park, builders discovered these beautifully preserved fossil tree trunks in a quarry. Opened in 1890, The Fossil Grove Museum contains the fossilised stumps and roots of eleven trees from the Carboniferous Period.

The Fossil Grove is open only on Saturdays and Sundays 12 pm – 4 pm from April to September.

9. House for an Art Lover

A bit outside of the Glasgow city centre, in Bellahouston Park, you will find the House for an Art Lover, a building based on the designs of the prominent architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The design was made in 1901, and the house-turned-museum opened in 1996. There is a shop and cafe inside.

In 1901 Mackintosh participated in a competition held by a German design magazine Zeitschrift für Innendekoration. The topic of the competition was to create an original creative design for a modern, tasteful house, “Haus eines Kunstfreundes”, which translates to “Art Lover’s House”.

House for an Art Lover

While Mackintosh got disqualified from the competition due to his late entry and unfinished works, the judges were very impressed with the unique design.

Almost 80 years later, Graham Roxburgh, a civil engineer in Glasgow, came up with the idea to actually build a house that Mackintosh had designed. The Construction began in 1989. It is not an original Mackintosh building but rather an interpretation of his original designs.

Anyway, this museum is an interesting place to visit in the city. The entire layout of the rooms follows the original design of Mackintosh. You can admire his design in the Entrance Hall, Dining Room, Oval Room and Music Room. Each room has the original portfolio designs on display for comparison.

While you are here, take a stroll around the Victorian walled garden next to the House for an Art Lover’s Studio Pavilion and heritage centre. Look out for the sculptures outside.

Opening Hours: Daily, 10 am- 5 pm.

10. People’s Palace, Glasgow Green

Set inside Glasgow Green, People’s Palace is a social history museum. Opened in 1898 by the Earl of Rosebery, it is one of the best places to visit in this city.

This museum was built as a cultural centre for the people living nearby. It contains an impressive collection showcasing the fascinating colourful history of the city and its people from 1750 to the end of the 20th century.

People’s Palace, Glasgow Green

There are several artefacts, memorabilia, photographs, videos and interactive displays depicting every aspect of Glaswegian life. You will find recreated one-room tenement house and the famous communal laundry of Glasgow.

Adjacent to this museum stands the large glass-domed Winter garden glasshouse, which houses a variety of tropical plants.

Also, look out for Doulton Fountain, the largest three-storey terracotta fountain in the world. It was relocated to Glasgow Green in 1890 from Kelvingrove Park.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm. Friday and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.

11. Glasgow Science Centre

Situated on the south bank of the River Clyde, visiting Glasgow Science Centre is one of the best kid-friendly attractions in the city.

Opened in 2001, the science centre has three floors filled with hundreds of interactive exhibits and experiences, which are fun and educational. Lots of different activities will keep visitors of all ages engaged and entertained.

Visit the planetarium on the first floor and learn about the distant galaxies and stars in the night sky. The Science Centre Theatre showcases different live shows.

There is Glasgow Tower and an IMAX Cinema adjacent to the science centre. The cafe on the ground floor serves delicious hot and cold food.

Opening Hours: Daily, 10 am – 5 pm.

12. Scotland Street School Museum

Housed in a former school, Scotland Street School Museum displays the history of education in Scotland for over one hundred years. The building was designed by Glasgow’s most famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh between 1903 and 1906.

Today it is one of the most important architectural landmarks in the city and a must-visit for all Mackintosh fans.

This museum tells a fascinating story of the past. It also hosts temporary exhibitions and has recreated classrooms from different time periods.

The school opened in 1906. For over 70 years, a few generations of children from Glasgow and its surrounding area attended this school. It closed its door in 1979.

You can see classrooms from Victorian times, the Second World War and the 1950s-1060s. Young visitors can dress up as students and join in the Victorian classroom, with actors playing the role of teachers. Several rooms have been restored to Mackintosh’s original designs.

13. The Museum of Piping

The bagpipe is the national instrument of Scotland and an important part of Scottish culture and heritage.

The Museum of Piping, a small museum dedicated to piping at the National Piping Centre, is located within a few minutes walking distance from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station. It displays three hundred years of the musical history of the great Highland bagpipe. Among the displays at this museum, you will find the oldest piece of bagpipe in the world and a piping relic of Robert Burns.

Bagpipe lovers would love to attend Piping Live, an annual bagpiping event in Glasgow. It’s the largest bagpipe festival in the world. You can also take part in the World Pipe Band Championships.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. Closed on Saturday & Sunday.

Entrance fees: £4.50 per adult.

14. Provand’s Lordship

Situated at the top of the High Street, close to the Glasgow Cathedral, Provand’s Lordship is a medieval house turned museum. It is the oldest domestic building in the city.

The house is beautifully preserved as it was during the medieval period. This historic landmark was constructed in 1471 by Andrew Muirhead, the then-bishop of the city. It was originally built for the Master of the nearby St Nicholas’s Hospital. Later it was used by the members of the Cathedral Chapter. In 1978, the City of Glasgow acquired the building. They restored and reopened the museum for the public in 1983.

Provand’s Lordship

This three-floored building has three main rooms connected by a spiral staircase. Low ceilings, doorways and narrow passageways create an authentic feeling of medieval dwellings. There’s an interpretative display about Provand’s Lordship and the medieval period on the ground floor. On the first floor, you will find the recreated Prebend’s chamber. There’s a gallery on the upper floor containing a collection of historic royal portraits.

Visit St Nicholas Garden, a recreated 15th-century medicinal herb garden behind the house. Admission to this museum is free of charge.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday, and Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm. Friday and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm. Monday Closed.

15. Glasgow Police Museum

Opened in 2002 on Bell Street in the Merchant City, this is a small museum dedicated to the history of the police forces in the city. Founded in 1779, Glasgow had the first police force in Britain.

It houses thousands of artefacts and two main exhibitions. The first one is the Police Historical Exhibition. It showcases artefacts explaining the long history of policing in the city from 1779 to 1975.

The second one is the International Police Exhibition which shows a huge collection of insignia, headgear and uniforms from different countries across the globe. You will learn the stories of the bravery and courage of the police forces of Glasgow.

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