Kelvingrove fundraising campaign - visitors can go Pole to Pole
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Kelvingrove fundraising campaign - visitors can go Pole to Pole

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum’s popular Life Gallery is to be redesigned to enable intriguing new specimens from the Natural History and World Cultures collections to be prepared and displayed.  To realise this exciting development for one of Scotland’s most popular attractions, the public are invited to donate to a fundraising campaign, which aims to generate £10,000 towards the total cost of the redisplay.  

The Life Gallery, situated in the museum’s West Court, is currently home to Sir Roger the Asian elephant and the Spitfire and is consistently one of the most popular areas for families and children in Kelvingrove. This will be the first significant development of this area since the museum reopened in July 2006.  

The iconic Spitfire suspended in Kelvingrove for almost 10 years is due to be lowered to the ground in October for a check-up. This scheduled work, which requires the Life Gallery to close from October 2015 until Spring 2016, will provide an opportunity for changes to be made in the gallery and new displays to be created.

The independent charity Friends of Glasgow Museums has made the first donation towards the project, a donation of up to £50,000, which will enable a complete redisplay of the Afro-tropics eco-zone.  Glasgow Museums Patrons’ Circle is also generously supporting the project.

After listening to the views of visitors, museum staff will develop displays primarily for an audience of children and families, such as the story of the Serengeti animal migration and life in the forests of India.  

Amongst the exciting new specimens Glasgow Museums hope to feature, if the fundraising target is met, are a wandering albatross, which was specially obtained for Glasgow Museums by the British Antarctic Survey and came from the Falklands and an artic tern. The artic tern can travel around the world, migrating from Arctic to Antartic every year.

Also on display for the first time will be the smallest of the big cats, a leopard, donated to the city from Glasgow Zoo and currently in cold storage at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.  A ‘Ghost Net’ sculpture of a sawfish has also been commissioned from Australia.

Additional highlights will include some of the world’s unique animals such as the Lemurs from Madagascar and the duck-billed platypus from Australia.  Sir Roger will stay in the gallery along with other favourites.  

The creation of the new gallery will be a two-year project, with the first phase starting in October 2015.  The gallery will remain closed until early spring 2016. Despite closure visitors on the upper galleries can look down and observe the once in a decade inspection of the Spitfire. The final phase of the work will take place in winter 2016.

Local children joined the manager of Kelvingrove Museum, Neil Ballantyne and Chair of Friends of Glasgow Museums, Liz Dent in the West Court wearing animal masks designed by local artist and co-director of Art On Scotland, Rebecca Glen.  They were joined by 13 year old author and blogger Jake McGowan-Lowe, one of the UK’s top 50 most influential conservation heroes and a specialist in bones.  Jake was inspecting the bone of an extinct giant New Zealand bird called a Moa, which will be on display when the redesigned gallery opens.  

Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham, said: “The remodelling of the Life Gallery at Kelvingrove will be one of the largest display changes since the building re-opened in 2006.  This display always ranks highly on the must-see list of many of the million-plus people who visit the museum every year.  Sir Roger and his animal friends are a huge draw and loved by the public, young and old.  

“The Spitfire inspection provides a wonderful opportunity for Glasgow Museums to update our favourite exhibits and with the public’s assistance bring some exciting new animals to Kelvingrove.  This is a fantastic opportunity to help us show more of the city’s natural history collection and enable both the people who live in Glasgow and the many visitors who flock to Kelvingrove every year to discover and learn more about some incredible animals.

“Glasgow Museums are very grateful to the Friends of Glasgow Museum and Patrons’ Circle for their generous contribution towards the redisplay of the West Court.”

Chair of Friends of Glasgow Museums, Liz Dent, added: “We are delighted to make this significant contribution to the innovative new display of the Life Gallery. As well as continuing to show the much loved Natural History Collection the remodelling will allow for new interpretation and new exhibits.”

Jake McGowan-Lowe said: “I’ve visited Kelvingrove many times, it’s a real favourite.  My family brought me here several times when I was young and I’m certain marvelling at the natural history collection helped spark my interest bones.  I think museums are incredibly important for introducing new and exciting subjects to young people and enabling them to further their interest.  I’ve really enjoyed seeing the Moa bone today and look forward to visiting when the redisplay is complete.” 

A public consultation in Spring 2014 has informed the displays, object selection and design. Research highlighted that visitors wanted to know where in the world the animals on display come from, what they eat, how long they live and other ecological information.  The new displays will group animals, plants and some geological and world cultures objects from the same areas of the world in distinct eco-zones, and consider that migratory species may live in multiple eco-zones.  It is hoped this will give people a better understanding of what lives where and why and the relationships that exist between species, especially those which migrate, and the many barriers which prevent other animals moving from one eco-zone to another.

The eco-zones that will be linked by the artic tern’s annual journey include Australasia, Antarctica Afrotropical, Nearctic, Neotropical, Oceania and Palaearctic.  There will be a further section on conservation, which will look at some conservation issues from around the world, such as endangered species, the destruction of habitats and the effect of pollution.  

Those wishing to donate to the Life Gallery redesign can text WEST COURT to 70300 to give £3, pick up a leaflet in Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, or donate online at  Donations can be also be made in designated donation boxes located at the West Court area of the museum.  Donations can be made before 29 January 2016.  All donors will be recognised on an exhibition thank you panel or be credited digitally. 

The Life Gallery will close to the public on 5th October 2015 and is expected to reopen in Spring 2016.  For more information visit insert

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