£50 million cash cuts could see Scotland's most visited art gallery close for good

Scotland's most visited art gallery could close for good in a bid to save cash.

The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) is one of Glasgow's most recognisable landmarks, in part due to the presence of the Duke of Wellington equestrian statue outside it, famous for wearing a traffic cone on its head.

Since it opened in 1996, the former library has become Scotland's most visited art gallery, ahead of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

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In 2018 the free-to-enter gallery was the seventh most visited tourist attraction in Scotland, drawing in more than 630,000 visitors.

The art gallery is the most visited in the country. Picture: SWNSThe art gallery is the most visited in the country. Picture: SWNS
The art gallery is the most visited in the country. Picture: SWNS
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It also has an extensive collection of work by well-known Scottish artists, and puts on exhibitions and events.

But in a bid to cut £50 million in the coming year, Glasgow City Council has proposed that the collection of artworks could be moved and the city centre building sold.

Across the museum sector, the local authority is hoping to save £538,000 by the "re-provisioning of services at St Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art, Provand's Lordship and GoMA".

The neoclassical-frontaged art gallery was built in 1778 as the grand townhouse of William Cunninghame of Lainshaw, one of Glasgow's wealthiest tobacco lords, who made much of his fortune through the transatlantic slave trade.

Documents stated that the modern art collection could be moved to another exhibition centre, Kelvin Hall, or to arts centre The Lighthouse.

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Council papers said: "Disposal of the building would probably have to be the preferred option."

The local authority faces the prospect of a massive payout over an equal pay scandal dating back to 2006, reported to be a bill of £548 million in compensation.

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Other proposals to save cash include closing some of the city's oldest libraries, including one of the Carnegie Libraries, built using money donated by Scots-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Maryhill Library, dating from 1905, was donated to the city by Mr Carnegie, who made a fortune in the American steel boom in the 19th Century.

Another library slated for closure is Whiteinch Library, dating from 1926.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "Glasgow City Council will need to make budget savings which could be in the region of £50m.

"The cross-party budget working group asked officers for savings options.

"All parties have received the same information and they will present their budgets at a meeting on February 20."