Rough Guide to Culture in Glasgow

Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, has a lot going for it. But it seems that when you live somewhere you sometimes become less aware of all the amazing things the city has to offer and you settle into daily life. It’s easy for Glasgow University to become your whole life and for you not to realise what else you could be taking advantage of. For me, the discovery came in my second year when I was given a gift card for the Citizen’s Theatre. I decided that I needed to find out more about what’s going on in Glasgow culturally. As so much of what Glasgow has to offer is free, it seems to me that there’s something for everyone and most of it is right on your doorstep!

The Hunterian Museum and Hunterian Art Gallery are both actually on campus so there really aren’t any excuses not to pop in. The Hunterian Museum is located in the Gilbert Scott Building (or the Hogwarts Building) which in itself is nice to have a look around. It’s the oldest public museum in Scotland and has all the variety you would expect and more than enough to keep you occupied for an afternoon. One of the things that sets it apart from other museums for me is the relevance of much of the collection to Glasgow. It was founded by Dr William Hunter and includes his own teaching aides (remember this was way before power points or even overhead projectors, so you’re likely to be looking at a preserved organ or something similarly eww-inspiring!). There are also other scientific instruments from prominent Scottish figures such as Lord Kelvin and relics from the Antoine Wall.

The Art Gallery is right next to the library and again is a fantastic place to learn about Scottish artwork. It has significant collections of James McNeill Whistler and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as the interiors from the Mackintosh house (which might attract anyone who watches 60 Minute Makeover or DIY SOS!). Entry is free and there’s the added bonus of free entry to the temporary exhibitions for Glasgow University students.


Not much further away is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is similarly famous and again contains a significant number of exhibits focused on Glasgow and Scotland. Its collection is larger and therefore more varied, ranging from exhibits about Scotland’s history, to a sculpture and art, all the way to firearms and weaponry. They have a fantastic collection of work by the group of painters known as the Glasgow Boys as well as work by Mackintosh. If you fancy seeing some work from further afield they have a collection of work by the Dutch Old Masters and French impressionists and a permanent exhibit on Ancient Egypt (don’t trust everything the Mummy films tell you!) Again it’s free and has a rather nice café in the main hall. They have temporary exhibits throughout the year so it’s not just a one-time attraction and even if you’re not sold on the collections, the building itself is worth taking a walk through the park to see.


If art or exhibits aren’t your cup of tea, the Citizens Theatre might do the trick. It’s not quite as close as the other places I’ve mentioned; it’s in the Gorbals on the Southside, but it’s easily accessible by subway or bus (or foot if you’re feeling fit!) and it’s nice to get out of the West End every now and then. It focuses on reworked versions of classic plays and new writing. As the second oldest operational theatre in the UK it boasts many of the original Victorian machinery and fittings, making it a pretty impressive place to spend the evening. A big part of what they do involves exposing as many people as possible to theatre and consequently they sell a limited number of tickets at 50p each. There are a number of conditions to get these tickets but as a student you can’t beat a bargain like that! Failing that, they offer student prices for most shows so they won’t break the bank. Shows to look out for in the autumn season include 1984 and Hamlet!


I hope you take advantage of everything Glasgow has to offer it’s truly one of the most culturally diverse countries out there. So go explore!


Alice Cockburn

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