Dave McCrossan provides his opinion on the Riverside Museum – Glasgow’s Museum of Transport and Travel. Dated from August 2011.
The building opened on 21st June 2011.
His opinion is personal and not necessarily shared by any of the members.
Whilst not completely a matter concerning Edinburgh Trams, with plans for a Transport Museum in Edinburgh, hopefully Edinburgh can produce a better Transport Museum than this example in Glasgow.
This page added August 2016.
I have visited Glasgow’s replacement Museum of Transport twice now. First impressions were in fact depressingly correct.
This is my personal opinion.
The changes are probably a sign of the times. No longer do we have a show case of all things that made Glasgow a proud engineering City. This museum should be an exploration of Ship building, Locomotive works, and heavy engineering achievements. The museum is perhaps more a celebration of the architect rather than its exhibits. I had a chat with some of the staff, and the need to attract numbers through the doors was required. The best solution to this they believed was to attract the young. It has all got a bit out of hand though.
A view from the side showing the main entrance to the Building. The car park is on the left and access is on the level - 22nd June 2011
"This is not a museum of transport, it is The Riverside Museum", and this may explain the endless array of non-transport related items taking up space which transport items, now in storage, would otherwise occupy. Star Wars toys, prams, women’s clothing, skateboards, typewriters, televisions, dolls, in fact just endless displays of “stuff”.
Endless displays of "stuff"
Museums have become play parks for children. The exhibits need to have flashing lights, buttons to press, or be colourful for the attention span of 5 seconds that children can manage now. No longer do we have any in depth historical or meaningful descriptions. It seems that anything that requires any form of concentrations or study has been removed. The "inter-active computers" are few and far between. These are used in schools and by the younger generation, but this is a museum! A touch screen where only one person can gain access and others stand around getting bored just doesn’t work. It would be easier for those with little knowledge to sit at home in front of a computer than crowd around one of these machines.
Touch screen - you have to hope that the person accessing the information wants to see the same details...
Exhibits 50 feet up in the air! Take for example the “car wall”. No longer can you get up close and peer into the cars. I was advised to press the buttons on the screen to see the cars up close! Why when designing the museum could proper space not be provided? The screen beside the cars is situated so you can’t look up to the exhibit and read the screen with the details at the same time. Enough to drive you up the wall. At least that way you might see something.
The car wall - why when designing a museum from scratch would you chose to display cars like this?
This exhibit is known locally as the wonder wall, as in – I wonder what is up there?
“More ship models are on display” was the cry - I’m not convinced. The ship models move backwards along a conveyor belt like dishes in a Japanese fish restaurant! No chance of studying anything. I was advised that the intention was to have them turn at the ends and go the correct way but space was limited. Why not place them the other way and they will sail forwards if they have to move?
Do we really need a life sized model of a zebra to show how camouflage worked?
Bikes are suspended from the ceiling like bunting, some screwed onto the ceiling upside down, I could go on but it is too depressing.
Bikes suspended from the ceiling like bunting - can you make them out?
The larger exhibits are so close that one cannot stand back and gain any impression. There is no structure to the layout of this place, it’s as if someone has thrown paper cut outs of the exhibits on to the floor and where they fell, the exhibit was put. It’s all to crammed in and is poorly laid out. Could you imagine going into a supermarket and every item was randomly put on shelves? Well – this is what it feels like.
It is all to crammed in and poorly laid out.
All my favourite accessories and display cases have vanished. The Aladdin’s Cave excitement has gone. In my younger days I found the previous transport museums a journey of discovery, which changed as I grew older and more inquisitive. Not now. The youngsters have a quick sprint round, off for a juice, and to the shop for a tacky piece of plastic made in China to throw away on the way home.
Difficult to study - why have this locomotive resting half in one level?
A theme park for attracting the young - yes; flashy - perhaps; shallow - yes; fast impressions then off - definitely. Cost £74m. A rather expensive crèche. The saddest part was how enthusiastic the staff on duty were. Like so much today, this has been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.
One thing is for sure, this is not a museum for life time learning.
A personal opinion following two visits by Dave, in June and August 2011.
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