When the 1901 Exhibition was closed, the site was cleared of the temporary buildings and returned to parkland. The huge task of installing the displays from the old Kelvingrove Museum (which was demolished in 1899) and the Corporation (McLellan) Galleries, was begun.
The opening of Kelvingrove was planned for 25 October 1902.
John Simpson created a splendid polished walnut case-front and display pipes for the magnificent Lewis & Co (London) organ. The organ was bought by the Council after the Exhibition to be the feature of the Central Hall.
The layout of the building was to be:
Fine Arts on the upper floors
Natural History in the East Wing
Technology and Archaeology in the West Wing
Sculpture in the Central Hall
This arrangement survived largely intact for the next hundred years.
The new building was a great success, with 1.1 million visitors in 1903, and again in 1904. Glasgow’s ratepayers voted for Sunday opening in 1905.
An annual drawing competition for children was established in 1904, and continues to this day.
Adding to the Collections
The purchase fund was used to enrich the art collections. In 1913 an inspired purchase was made of Bastien-Lepage’s Poor Fauvette. Like the Whistler portrait of Carlyle, this painting is of added significance for our collection because of Bastien-Lepage’s influence on the Glasgow Boys.
The Great War had an effect on the institution. This was most tragically seen in July 1915 when Gilbert A Ramsey, the newly appointed Superintendent of Museums, was killed in action at the Dardanelles.
The annual report of 1917 noted the presence of many wounded and colonial soldiers among the visitors.
The 1914 figure of around 1,000 oil paintings in the collection rose by the outbreak of World War II in 1939 to over 1,500. The National Art Collections Fund and the Contemporary Art Society helped the Gallery with the acquisition of works of art.
Gifts and Bequests
Bequests such as James Donald's in 1905 were of more significance than the early purchases. Donald was a local chemical manufacturer. His bequest included French Barbizon and Realist pictures, which formed the foundation of the Gallery’s Impressionist collection.
The major acquisition of this period was shipping magnet Sir William Burrell’s gift of 48 paintings and drawings in 1925. Included were 23 by important French artists of the Realist and Modern schools. (Burrell is pictured above).
Another significant gift was the Hamilton Bequest of 1927. This was the combined estates of the late storekeeper John Hamilton and his two sisters, Elizabeth and Christina. They gave a sum of money solely for the purchase of oil paintings for Kelvingrove. The fund is still administered by the Hamilton Trustees today and has presented some 80 paintings to the gallery.