The Hunterian, Glasgow

Hunterian considers relocation plan

Gareth Harris, 11.04.2013
Radical plan will also see Glasgow Life open new collections facility
The Hunterian, Scotland’s oldest public museum based at Glasgow University, could relocate to nearby Kelvin Hall under a radical plan designed to increase access to the collection.

Phase one of the project, scheduled for completion by 2016, will involve the creation of a Hunterian Study Centre at Kelvin Hall for collections, research training and teaching.

“In the first phase of development it is planned that all Hunterian study collections currently housed both on and off campus will be co-located at Kelvin Hall,” a spokeswoman for the Hunterian said.

A new Centre for Cultural Heritage skills focusing on museum education practice and cultural policy programmes also forms part of the first development stage.

New public galleries along with exhibition and education areas are to open at the new site by 2020 during the second phase.

“Ideally, we would like to quadruple the percentage of items from the collections on public display, from the current 0.5% to 2%,” said a spokeswoman for the Hunterian.

The move to Kelvin Hall will cost £60m, according to local press reports. But the spokeswoman added that “the costs are still being reviewed and discussed… we will be looking at a wider fundraising campaign for phase two, with support from charities, trusts and individuals”.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced initial support of £4.8m for phase one of the project. A Round Two capital bid for HLF funding will be submitted in June.

"The project is still at the planning stage, and other options are also being considered. The way forward will of course depend on financial viability and agreement between all the parties involved," said the Hunterian spokeswoman.

Glasgow Life, the trust that runs the city’s museums, will also use Kelvin Hall as a museum collections facility under a new partnership with Glasgow University.  

A spokesman for Glasgow Life said: “Around 400,000 objects within the city of Glasgow’s collections, which are currently not on display, would be moved to the hall, including the only surviving complete suite of interiors by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Mrs Cranston's Ingram Street tearooms.”

The project would be the first of its kind between a university and a local authority-owned collection, according to Glasgow Life.

The National Library of Scotland's Scottish Screen Archive will also be a project partner.

The Hunterian, founded in 1807, encompasses four venues on campus: the Hunterian Museum, the Hunterian Art Gallery, the Zoology Museum and the Anatomy Museum.

Kelvin Hall, which opened in 1927, is a mixed-use arts and sports venue. It housed Glasgow's Museum of Transport from 1987 to 2010.

The refurbished Kelvin Hall, sited near Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, will be home to sports facilities, dance studios and a spin studio as well as the museum collections.