THE transformation of a Glasgow landmark into one of the UK’s biggest museums and research centres is well under way, with the facility expected to open in the autumn.
The September intake of students at Glasgow University will be among the first to benefit from the £35 million redevelopment of Kelvin Hall in the city’s west end.
The facility will offer teaching and research rooms, and vast new storage areas are being prepared to house around 1.5 million museum items, currently spread across nine separate sites.
It will also house the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive and digital collections, while retaining its legacy as a former international sports arena.
A health and fitness centre will incorporate an eight-court, multi-purpose sports hall, a gymnastics and martial arts hall and the city’s largest fitness gym.
The project is a joint partnership between Glasgow University, the Hunterian, Glasgow Museums, the National Library of Scotland and Glasgow Club.
Professor Murray Pittock, pro vice-principal of Glasgow University, 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.
“Kelvin Hall 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, 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.”
Kelvin Hall opened as an exhibition centre in the 1920s and was used for musical performances before becoming a sports arena and home to Glasgow’s Museum of Transport.
Over the years it has hosted major sports events including the 1990 European Athletics Indoor Championships.
A planned second phase of redevelopment will turn a 16,000sq metres hall, once occupied by the Transport Museum, into a new home for the Hunterian museum by 2020.
Glasgow University principal Professor Anton Muscatelli has previously suggested that when complete, the Kelvin Hall area will be the “best museum district outside of London”.
Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery sits opposite the Kelvin Hall building and the Riverside Museum, home to the transport collection, is nearby.
The redevelopment is being funded by Glasgow City Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish Government, Glasgow University and Historic Scotland.