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Glasgow's Hidden Treasure - GMRC

Glasgow's Hidden Treasure - GMRC
Glasgow is home to the finest civic art collection in Europe but what the public sees at any one time only represents about 3% of the whole collection. The rest can be found at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) in Nitshill. I’ve listed the GMRC kids and families events since we started, happy to share such favourites as Blast Off!, Flutter By Butterfly, Toy Stories and Medieval Madness. Unfortunately circumstances have meant that we’ve never taken part so I jumped at the chance when I received an invitation to visit from Gareth James, the museum manager.

You’ll find the GMRC at the dead end of a very uninspiring industrial estate. From the nearest station, you have to walk across some waste ground. But this is definitely a journey worth making.

It would be unfair to call it an Aladdin’s cave. This state-of-the-art building contains a million items catalogued and sorted into temperature and light-controlled pods. One of the biggest contains over 3000 paintings ranging from an intimate portrait by Renoir of his poorly son (parents will recognise the pink cheeks as a symptom of teething), to larger paintings by John Byrne. Another popular one is Natural History, which is a stunning display of stuffed animals including some of the world’s deadliest. Not for everyone, I found this pod incredible – the preserved animals look statuesque and graceful. World Cultures contains everything from a ‘fantasy coffin’ from Ghana to ancient Egyptian artefacts that you can actually touch. We also visited Arms and Armour where some school children were finding out more about the Romans. Transport takes up two pods and anyone who misses some of the exhibits from the former transport museum at Kelvin Hall can get close up to some favourites here.

The GMRC combines the roles of storage and conservation with the philosophy of open access that underpins Glasgow’s Museums work. This is reflected in that the public are encouraged to come and visit, with the proviso that they call ahead and book an appointment or better still, book on one of the Centre’s many tours. Once inside you can see one of the reasons why this might be the case – this is a vast building made up of long corridors and staircases. It would be quite easy to get lost and, while I’m not suggesting that visitors are anything other than trustworthy, many of the priceless items just sit on shelves.

Last year, the Centre welcomed a record 15,000 visitors, the year before 12,000. The tours, which take a maximum of 15 people, are very popular and their family and kids events are particularly well attended. (Two of the most popular tours are the 12 Days of Christmas and a Pantomime-themed one.) There are rooms where kids can take part in some arts and crafts sessions, experimenting with clay or creating collages. There’s a courtyard in the centre of the building, which can be a suntrap and is a safe place for kids to take part in some planting and other outdoor activities. During the holidays, the Village Storytelling Centre sets up their yurt here for very popular storytelling sessions that tie in with the themed tours. Looking ahead, we’ll definitely be coming back this summer. Myths and Monsters in July - a family tour, object handling, dressing up and storytelling – looks like the perfect family day out.

What's On
The Glasgow Museums Resource Centre runs regular tours and workshops for under 2s, 3-5s and 5+ along with their grown ups. All require pre-booking with the exception of the Family Friendly Weekends, which combine a short tour of the collection and some arts and crafts activities.

Coming Up
Book now for Wee Creatives on Tuesday 27 May, Wee Egyptologists on 31 May, Grand Day Out and Light and Shadow on Saturday 7 June, Let’s Explore the Commonwealth on 8 June and North Indian Crafts on Saturday 14 June.

Visit: www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/GMRC/
GMRC - 3000 paintings in this podGMRC - a prototype of the revolutionary MacLaren BuggyGMRC - ready for the Mad Hatters Tea Pary
GMRC - beautiful owls
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