A magnificent and imposing mass of red sandstone and gothic-looking spires, Kelvingrove is Glasgow’s finest museum – and arguably Scotland’s too. Built in the Spanish Baroque style, it opened in 1901 on the edge of the leafy Kelvingrove Park in the city’s West End, but has been enjoying a new lease of life since 2006 when it underwent a £28 million refurbishment, restoration and expansion.
The collection contains more than 8,000 pieces, which range from one of Europe’s greatest displays of civic art to a Supermarine Spitfire suspended dramatically from the ceiling. You’ll also find a world-famous assembly of arms and armour from throughout the ages, pieces from ancient Scotland and ancient Egypt alike, and various natural history exhibits showing off weird and wonderful beasts from across thousands of centuries. There’s a menagerie of more recently stuffed animals too, including Sir Roger the Indian Elephant, one of Kelvingrove’s oldest and most-loved exhibits (just try to stop the kids from spotting the bullet hole in his skull).
Kelvingrove is Scotland’s most popular free tourist attraction, and the UK’s most visited museum in the UK outside of London. It also hosts regular temporary exhibitions, which in the past have included a major Jack Vettriano retrospective, studies of Glasgow’s Stuart and Georgian past, Scottish football history, and even a display dedicated to the fashion of Kylie Minogue. For refreshments, there’s a basic coffee bar in the grand main hallway, while on the lower-ground floor you’ll find the slightly upscale KG Café, which serves hot meals and wines with a view of the park and university.