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More than a Museum

Luglio 2006
Se si esclude il circuito londinese, è a Glasgow il museo più visitato nel Regno Unito. Mark O’Neill, assessore alle belle arti della città, ci spiega perchè Kelvingrove è molto più di un museo.

di Julian Earwaker

File audio:

The Kelvingrove museum
The Kelvingrove museum

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

This month sees the re-opening of Glasgow’s famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, after three-and-a-half years of refurbishment work. The event marks yet another chapter in the revival of this great Scottish city. Housed in a magnificent red sandstone building in Kelvingrove Park, to the west of the centre, the Kelvingrove is the most visited museum in Britain –  outside London, that is. It contains internationally famous collections of art, with work by Botticelli, Titian and Rembrandt, while its archaeology and natural history collections are equally impressive. Mark O’Neill, Head of Arts and Museums, explains what makes the museum special:

Mark O’Neill (Standard Irish accent):

It was built when Glasgow was the second city of the British Empire, one of the wealthiest industrial places in the world. And there... a lot of the money was spent on the building, but all the great industrialists were collectors as well and we’ve inherited an amazing wealth of collections, but it’s also a great public space; you’ve seen the magnificent central hall, which is one of the great public spaces in Scotland. So it’s a combination of a sort of a miniature national museum and a civic piazza where people can promenade and meet each other and interact and go for a coffee. So it serves a whole range of social functions and it’s part of the life of Glasgow – it’s not a sort of separate ethereal institution, it’s very much a part of the city’s life.

the industrial revolution

When the Kelvingrove opened in 1902, the British Empire was still expanding. The Industrial Revolution had radically changed the face of Britain. Although they probably didn’t know it, the workers in Glasgow’s factories and docks helped to lay the foundations for the museums of the future. The profits from the industries they worked for funded the art collections of wealthy industrialists; there was international competition for culture as well as commerce:

Mark O’Neill:

Museums were invented in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, but they only really came into their own9 when urban industrialism took over – they’re very much a sort of an expression of the culture of the European bourgeoisie – I mean, the European bourgeoisie made their money from making objects, and museums are sort of temples to objects, manufacturing, but also then collecting and displaying objects. So if Glasgow hadn’t been a really wealthy city in the nineteenth century we wouldn’t have this magnificent museum.


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Glossary

refurbishment work - lavori di restauro.

sandstone building - edificio di arenaria.     

wealthy - ricco.

we’ve inherited an amazing wealth - abbiamo ereditato una quantità straordinaria.

a whole range - un’intera gamma.

factories - fabbriche.

docks - porti.

to lay the foundations - gettare le fondamenta.

they only came into their own - trovarono il loro vero ruolo.

took over - prese il sopravvento.