Monday, 5 March 2012

Museum moaner visits Edinburgh

I've used this blog for an infrequent moan about the lack of maintenance in Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow so it seems only fair to give praise where it is due. Well, on Sunday I had a trip along the M8 to some Edinburgh galleries and museums with my family, to see how the other half lives. The specific reason for this was to take my daughter to the "Fascinating Mummies" exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh because they are "doing Egypt" at school just now.

The first thing that makes the visit easier is the opening times, 10am - 5pm EVERY day. Dead easy, dead straight forward. Kelvingrove Art Gallery is one of Glasgow's few museums still open every day, but even then a clutch of confused tourists can be found there every Friday and Sunday morning as the place doesn't open until 11am as they trim costs. The Fascinating Mummies exhibition is sadly a pay at the door event, which for my family of 5 means it costs over £30 to see which obviously means a lot of people are just flatly excluded, but there you go, that's the way of the world these days, isn't it.

The exhibition itself is excellent, good artefacts, informative displays, no silly audio tours or dumbed down nonsense, the interactive stuff all worked and it was enjoyed by a 5 year old and her parents. A good time was had by all. It is housed in a museum which feels like a National Museum, and you walk about with a smile on your face. I've been here twice now since it was done up and feel the refurbishment is absolutely spot on. We did "exit through the gift shop", which was full of just the right level of tat we were after to be taken into school next week (see pic) and we had a look around their free Egyptian displays too which is of a similar high quality.

Then we went to the recently re-opened Scottish National Portrait Gallery. As has been widely reported the building is the star. We ooh-ed and aah-ed in the main hall (see below)

...we played in the big glass lift and I'd have liked to have enjoyed the cafe, but the children balked at the idea once they'd seen rows of quiche and rocket salad type offerings. I know it has only just opened, but there was loads of staff and all the computers worked, etc. Glasgow just does not seem to have the same level of upkeep. Surely the recent theft of a sculpture at Kelvingrove is a warning that they are just cutting corners too far.

Anyway, next stop a run out to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is largely given over at present to the Sculpture Show, which I loved. Again, plenty of staff evident in all the rooms.

The kids enjoyed it too and the oldest two (aged 9 and 12) sat for half an hour hypnotised by a video of a kinetic sculpture by Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Then a quick trot across the road to see the FCB Caddell exhibition before it closes in a couple of weeks, which would have cost us a ridiculous £29 to see if we hadn't blagged someone elses free tickets (thanks @grannygrandad ).

Next stop back onto the M8, to get home to Glasgow. We'd had a great day out, the sunset ahead of us all the way was beautiful, Johnny Cash was on the cd player. It makes me sad seeing the way Glasgow City Council are letting their museums crumble, stuff get stolen, roof leaks eg Burrell, people missing out on seeing things because museums are closed to save money. I don't know enough about it to know what causes the difference, but the Edinburgh museums appear to be in rude health compared with their west coast cousins. Does National Gallery status funding make the difference? If so it needs spread about. Glasgow clearly also needs to realise that this is not something it is doing successfully on the cheap.
By @Paul4Jags

1 comment:

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