The £40m redevelopment of one of Glasgow’s most famous landmarks is taking shape and on target for completion in the summer.
Kelvin Hall will sit alongside Kelvingrove Museum and the Riverside Museum, creating what promises to be a cultural and heritage district in Glasgow to rival any other in the UK outside of London.
The former sports arena is being transformed into one of the UK’s biggest museum and academic research centres, and will also house a public sporting and museums facility, as well as becoming home to the National Library of Scotland’s Scottish Screen Archive.
Phase 1 of the redevelopment is due to be completed by the summer, and should officially open in September.
The development unites several national organisations under the one roof: the University of Glasgow; The Hunterian Museum; Glasgow Life (Museums and Sport); and the National Library of Scotland.
New postgraduate courses and state-of-the-art research and study areas will be offered by the University of Glasgow, with the new student intake starting in September.
The Hunterian Museum will house its new collection study and research facilities, with space for more than 1.5 million items, many of which have never been on public display and are currently stored in nine separate storage facilities around the city.
Glasgow Museums, with 400,000 objects, and Glasgow Sports will provide open public access to its collections and high-tech sporting facilities, and the National Library of Scotland will move the Scottish Screen Archive, with its entire television and film collection, to its new Kelvin Hall home.
Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow, commenting on the development, said: “Kelvin Hall, when it is completed, will be the best museum district outside of London.
“With Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery across the road and the nearby Riverside Museum, Glasgow’s riverside and west end area will become a cultural corridor from the Clyde to Kelvingrove for academia and tourism, to rival South Kensington in London which is home to the V&A, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.”
Professor Murray Pittock, Pro Vice-Principal of the University of Glasgow, said: “Kelvin Hall is a hugely exciting and unique project which brings together for the first time anywhere in the world civic organisations, higher education and national organisations under one roof.
“It has already attracted interest from a wide range of organisations cross the world from Christie’s Education, via the Re-Enlightenment project based in New York but with hubs in Cambridge and now London, to the Smithsonian.
He added: “It will help students wanting to study at the University of Glasgow to engage through the many objects housed at Kelvin Hall, it will enable postgraduate students to train using direct access to collections and the new digital portal, with more than 200,000 images which can be utilised for research purposes. It will be a world leading facility and is excellence available to all.”
Professor David Gaimster, Director of The Hunterian Museum, said: “The Kelvin Hall Phase 1 project is going to enable us to bring together all of our collections, 1.5 million objects and specimens, that are now in nine different storage facilities which are very inaccessible, and bring this incredible asset dating back to The Enlightenment, and not only create new access for educational audiences including the University of Glasgow but also connect collections which have been entirely fragmented for more than 200 years.
“For The Hunterian, Phase 1 of the development is the foothold and should give us the business case to eventually create a new Hunterian in the next few years as part of Phase 2. In the meantime, The Hunterian public galleries will remain where they currently are.”
It is planned that Phase 2 of Kelvin Hall would turn the 16,000sq metres hall, which once housed the former Transport Museum, into the new Hunterian together with innovative developments from other civic and national partners. A completion date is set for 2020.
The Kelvin Hall development financial supporters include the University of Glasgow, The Hunterian, Glasgow Life Museums and Sport, National Library Scotland, Scottish Government, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and Glasgow City Council.