I LOVE the Lighthouse - and now it's FREE on a Saturday! Fantastic! But this is a review, so I need to tell you why it floats my boat.
Well, first off I love the deisgn. As a museum of architecture and design it had to be good - and it has a lovely, airy feel. A mash-up of a new building and an existing one, with original windows and exposed brick on display inside. There is a small gift shop dowstairs stocking a well priced range of quirky gifts (if you can bear to part with them) and cards and a larger shop upstairs selling some more high-end items (fancy a little Marimekko fabric, anyone?)
Upstairs there are two galleries with ever-changing exhibitions and one with a static Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition. The CRM Gallery has a very comprehensive review of his work, with pictures, models and video clips. It also has a spiral staircase which leads up to the top of the Daily Record Tower - one of his designs and the original owners of the building. It looks like a daunting clib, but once up there the view is well worth it!
Last time I visited Gallery 1 had an exhibition of new designers works - all well labelled and displayed and Gallery 2 had turned into a knitted wonderland, courtesy of Donna Wilson. I was really taken with this and when I requested a poster from the staff they went out of their way to find one for me.
Unfortunately I can't comment on the food or drink because I haven't eaten there - but it smells great!
Before you leave, head up to the Viewing Gallery via the lift and chill out for a bit high above the city.
There can be few visitors to Glasgow who havent heard of one of its famous sons, the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, or glimpsed his trademark geometric designs and stylised flowers which can be seen in places such as the famous Willow Tea Rooms; the Glasgow School of Art and Scotland Street School, to name but three.
On a recent visit to Glasgow, I discovered another Mackintosh gem, quite by chance. Staying overnight in a Glasgow hotel, and flicking through some of the tourist literature in the foyer, I found a brochure about The Lighthouse, describing it as Scotlands Centre for Architecture, Design and the City and, on reading further, I discovered that if I took along the leaflet, it would entitle me to purchase two tickets for entry into The Lighthouse for the price of one. Normally £3 per adult, I decided to take up the offer.
Located in the heart of Glasgow, but tucked away in a back lane off Buchanan Street, The Lighthouse is a skilful reincarnation of the former Glasgow Herald building which had been commissioned by Mackintosh in 1895. When the Glasgow Herald newspaper moved to Albion Street in 1980, the old building in Mitchell Street lay empty and derelict for a decade.
Glasgow was awarded the title UK City of Architecture in 1999. With the aid of £13 million, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the rescued building evolved into The Lighthouse, a spacious six-storey arts and exhibition centre high of ceiling and brightly welcoming. Regularly showcasing and promoting contemporary Scottish and international designers and architecture, there is something for everyone child and adult, arts buff or vaguely curious.
Our visit was on the Sunday of the May Bank Holiday weekend in 2006. We found the young man at reception to be very friendly and knowledgeable. He gave us our programme and pointed out the new exhibitions in the gallery one of which was Babes in Sport on Level 2 Young Designers Gallery. Babes in Sport is an exhibition by Danish fashion designer Anna Gulmann, featuring four new interpretations of traditional sportswear for figure skating, dressage, curling and boxing. Very different, and worth a look-see (running from 29 April-27 June 06).
The Mack Room on Level 3, which includes original artefacts and models alongside the illuminated time line wall and touch screen displays, is a permanent exhibition but there is a constantly changing programme of events and exhibitions so, if you are planning a visit to Glasgow and fancy taking a trip to The Lighthouse, visit their website at www.thelighthouse.co.uk for an up-to-date programme.
The highlight of the visit, for me, was the old Mackintosh water tower, now transformed with a 137-stepped helical staircase. Its a steep climb and not for those afraid of heights, but I beg you to make the effort because once you get to the top and step out onto the platform you will be rewarded with the most breathtaking views of Glasgows stunning cityscape.
After the unexpected exercise of the climb and descent of the spiral staircase, refreshment is most definitely in order and fortunately, the centre also has its own restaurant/bar, the Doocot, on Level 5.
The food was something of a pleasant surprise, ranging from typically Scottish to dishes of a more cosmopolitan flavour. From a traditional Scottish soup of Cullen Skink, to a most un-tartan offering of tasty Thai Salad, there is definitely something for everyones taste, including vegetarians. All freshly made on the premises, you can choose from soups, sandwiches, pastas, salads, the delicious house special, the Dootcot Salcicia burgers or scones and tea. Prices vary, depending on your choice. Again, if you visit the website, you can find the Doocot menu and get an idea of the prices.
A highly recommended visit.
A range of group and multi-tickets are also available.
Mon, Wed-Sat: 10.30am-5.00pm
Tues from 11.00am-5.00pm
Sun from 12 noon-5.00pm
All levels of the building are fully accessible via lift except the Mackintosh Tower which can only be accessed by climbing stairs. There is an induction loop at reception. Call or speak to a staff member about access enquiries.
Tickets and information:
0141 221 6362
11 Mitchell Lane