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Peoples Palace (Glasgow)

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      14.04.2013 18:46
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      I could spend hours in the gardens!

      We enjoy going on day trips and as my fiance was off work at the weekend, we decided to head into Glasgow and visit a museum. We had originally decided to go to Kelvingrove but decided on People's Palace and Winter Gardens as neither my son or fiance had been here before. So, we visited on a fairly warm and dry Saturday afternoon.

      ~People's Palace and Winter Gardens - Essential Information~

      The museum is located within Glasgow Green which is around a 15 minute walk from the main shopping area in Glasgow. Several bus services stop nearby including the 16, 40 and 263. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and also the 1st and 2nd of January from 10am-5pm and 11am-5pm on a Sunday. There is on site parking and the museum is disabled and pushchair friendly. Entry to the museum is free but donations are welcome.

      ~What Is There To See/Do?~

      People's Palace opened in 1898. The museum part of the building is located on the upper floors and is said to tell the story of people who have lived in Glasgow from 1750 through the 20th century. Social history is explained via various photographs, interactive displays and artefacts. Alongside People's Palace, there is also Winter Gardens which is an indoor garden featuring exotic trees and plants.

      There is access to a cafe within Winter Gardens, toilet facilities and also a gift shop within the museum.

      ~Our Thoughts~

      I remember visiting People's Palace when on a school trip and throughly enjoyed it. We decided upon visiting here as we figured we could go to the nearby play park at the same time. We walked to the museum past the River Clyde and it didn't take long at all. As you enter Glasgow Green from the main entrance, People's Palace isn't even visible to the eye. It is quite a walk in from the entrance but the walk is relaxing.

      The exterior of the museum is very exquisite looking. We approached the museum from the back where the Winter Gardens building was visible. Access is via the front of the building where one will pass a stunning fountain. The surrounding gardens of the museum are enclosed and are perfect for just relaxing in. They are well maintained as is the entire museum and Winter Gardens - just lovely. A small reception area is present in the lobby if you need any help.

      The museum was quite busy on our arrival and we made our way through to Winter Gardens as the toilets are here (and are very clean/well stocked). This is a beautifully arranged building but very warm as you would expect. I took time to walk around and admire the various trees and plants that were in the gardens. Many others had the same idea as the gardens were quite busy. As the boys headed to the little boys room, I simply relaxed on one of the many benches and found it to be idylic despite the noise from the cafe nearby. I'm not usually a plant person but they were gorgeous to look at and photograph. There was a little pond where you could throw coppers in to.

      We had already had lunch but did make a pit stop at the cafe. There are plenty of tables to relax at but most are suitable for larger parties so you may find yourself sitting with strangers. It did take a while for us to be served due to how busy the cafe was but the staff appeared to be friendly. The food on offer included soup, sandwiches, cakes and drinks. I was very tempted by the display of cheesecakes and sponges but we settled for a drink and a piece of crispy cake to share. Cones were also available. Prices were typical for this type of establishment but not extortionate. Soup was around £3.50, cans of juice £1.10 and ice cream around £1.40.

      From outside, the actual museum part of the building doesn't look very big. It is set across a three floors which are accessed via lifts and stairs. The main lobby offers a grand looking stair case which took us to the first display area which is suprisingly spacious. My son is 5 in a few weeks but I feel that People's Palace is more suited to older children as he got bored easily. The first display focusses on the war and is very realistic through the use of little 'shops', and Anderson shelter and various props. My son did enjoy going in the Anderson shelter but wasn't as interested as me when it came to looking at how things were rationed. I found the displays to be highly informative. Some exhibitions did not allow for full access but children were able to try out washing clothes 'in the olden days'.

      As well as exhibits on World War 1 and 2, this floor is also home to a dancing display focussed around the Barrowlands (the Barras to us Scots lol). I always enjoy looking at old fashioned dancing dresses and my fiance and I had a giggle at the popular 'bevvy' display from over the years. I had a wander out to the lift area which also featured a balcony overlooking Winter Gardens - visually gorgeous.

      Heading up a rather steep and narrow of stairs (access are two ends of the museum), we arrived at the top floor. This floor is my favourite. The main part of this floor is titled 'Visions of the City' and included some paintings and historical exhibits. My favourite section was dedicated to the housing situation in Glasgow from several years ago until recently. I found this to be an interesting section with excellent exhibits and I feel older children would enjoy it more than my son. Various displays and information plaques illustrated what living and washing conditions were like in the tenament houses.

      There is a temporary exhibition space on this floor too and until February 2014, this space is home to the Red Road exhibition. For those who aren't from Glasgow, the Red Road flats dominated the Glasgow skyline for near on 50 years. They were recently demolished. This exhibition including the video of the demolision which I found very interesting as I love watching controlled demolisions! This exhibition was well executed and featured videos and stories from those involved in the developement and upkeep of the flats over the years.

      ~Conclusion~

      We spent an hour or so walking around the museum but could have easily spent longer had my son not been as impatient about wishing to go the park! If I lived nearby, I could easily go here and spend a few hours just sitting in the Winter Gardens during quieter times as I found them to be idylic. We were pleased with the facilities on offer and the general maintenance of the building and surrounding areas cannot be faulted. We did make a quick detour to the shop which offered a range of souvenirs and sweets. Prices were reasonable but we didn't buy anything as the shop is quite small. It was rather busy so we didn't want to wait around. We did encounter a few members of staff on our trip around the museum and they appeared to be well informed and friendly. Tours are available.

      I can recommend a visit to People's Palace and Winter Gardens as it passes the time and is interesting if you want to learn about the people who lived in Glasgow. There isn't quite as much to do when compared with other museums in Glasgow but is lovely to walk around. I wouldn't go back with an under five as he found it boring but for a school child learning about life in the olden days, it is the perfect place to be. It is free too which makes it even better. On my next visit, I will go alone and just chill in the Winter Gardens!

      Thanks for reading :)

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        13.02.2011 23:55
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        Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Transport museum a better option

        The exhibits are extremely limited. In short, filled with old tat which could easily be picked up nearby at the local barrows. I was hoping to see a bit of nostalgia in the form of old Glasgow newspapers, old chocolate bars, old coins and items from the pantry that we no longer see. A box of tampax on display was certainly not what I expected from a family exhibit and hardly nostalgic.

        Glasgow was well known for it's old music halls and theatres ie.the Panopticon/Britannia Music Hall, Theatre Royal, Alhambra, Metropole and yet all these well know, wonderful venues are not mentioned. There is however, excelent footage of Barrowland dancing but it only lasts two minutes and then the rather boring dancing duo takes up the rest of the footage. Come to think of it, where are all the wonderful black and white films on typical Glasgow life, showing tenement life in general. There are huge amounts of film available on this subject we seldom have the chance to see.

        I was most surprised that there were no exhibits from the Glasgow Empire Exhibition and the Internation Exhibition. There is a wealth of memorabilia from these significant events available which could have easily been displayed.

        The main focus of the People's Palace seems to (unfairly) highlight the depth of poverty and human degradation in Glasgow, displaying Glasgow as a poverty struck cesspit and the lowest form of life. For the avoidance of doubt, there was another less impoverished side of life going on in Glasgow at the same time.

        There is a painting of Jimmy Reid, the Clydeside trade union activist taking precedence on the wall. Whilst there is little doubt he was an inspiring orator, he and Billy Connolly embarrasingly supersede Rennie Mackintosh and Sir William Burrell.
        Woe betide us if ''The city of culture' eptiomises Billy Connolly as our claim to fame!

        The wonderful architecture and buildings of Glasgow are lost on this museum. In addition, the superb old Glasgow shops, Pettigrew and Stephens, Copeland and Lye, Daly's, The Lewis's and Hendersons have no mention in this museum and our marvelous Art Deco cinemas have been sadly forgotten.

        It is an outrageous abuse of such a lovely building and does not truly reflect the warmth and kindness of the Glasgow people or in any way show the beauty of the city.

        On a practical note, the ladies toilets had no toilet rolls and the interactive exhibit telephones were absolutely filthy and broken. The cake from the cafe was hard and tasteless.

        Dreary, depressing and does not really portray the reality of true Glasgow nostalgia. The exhibits were limited and the bare grocery shop and tennement house could be greatly improved.The exhibits are extremely limited. In short, filled with old tat which could easily be picked up nearby at the local barrows. I was hoping to see a bit of nostalgia in the form of old Glasgow newspapers, old chocolate bars, old coins and items from the pantry that we no longer see. A box of tampax on display was certainly not what I expected from a family exhibit and hardly nostalgic.

        Glasgow was well known for it's old music halls and theatres ie.the Panopticon/Britannia Music Hall, Theatre Royal, Alhambra, Metropole and yet all these well know, wonderful venues are not mentioned. There is however, excelent footage of Barrowland dancing but it only lasts two minutes and then the rather boring dancing duo takes up the rest of the footage. Come to think of it, where are all the wonderful black and white films on typical Glasgow life, showing tenement life in general. There are huge amounts of film available on this subject we seldom have the chance to see.

        I was most surprised that there were no exhibits from the Glasgow Empire Exhibition and the Internation Exhibition. There is a wealth of memorabilia from these significant events available which could have easily been displayed.

        The main focus of the People's Palace seems to (unfairly) highlight the depth of poverty and human degradation in Glasgow, displaying Glasgow as a poverty struck cesspit and the lowest form of life. For the avoidance of doubt, there was another less impoverished side of life going on in Glasgow at the same time.

        There is a painting of Jimmy Reid, the Clydeside trade union activist taking precedence on the wall. Whilst there is little doubt he was an inspiring orator, he and Billy Connolly embarrasingly supersede Rennie Mackintosh and Sir William Burrell.
        Woe betide us if ''The city of culture' eptiomises Billy Connolly as our claim to fame!

        The wonderful architecture and buildings of Glasgow are lost on this museum. In addition, the superb old Glasgow shops, Pettigrew and Stephens, Copeland and Lye, Daly's, The Lewis's and Hendersons have no mention in this museum and our marvelous Art Deco cinemas have been sadly forgotten.

        It is an outrageous abuse of such a lovely building and does not truly reflect the warmth and kindness of the Glasgow people or in any way show the beauty of the city.

        On a practical note, the ladies toilets had no toilet rolls and the interactive exhibit telephones were absolutely filthy and broken. The cake from the cafe was hard and tasteless.

        Dreary, depressing and does not really portray the reality of true Glasgow nostalgia. The exhibits were limited and the bare grocery shop and tennement house could be greatly improved.

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        11.08.2008 20:19
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        A great day out for all the family

        The People's Palace and Winter Gardens, situated within Glasgow Green, probably the oldest park in Glasgow, is a museum dedicated to Glasgow from the 1750's.

        When the Palace opened in 1898 it was intended as a cultural centre for people living in the overcrowded east end of the city. The building had recreation and reading rooms on the ground floor, a museum on the first floor and a picture gallery on the upper floor. Since the early 1940's the building was converted to the museum it is now.

        The building was closed for a two year refurbishment in 1996 after the building was neglected to the point that it was beginning to fail down. The Winter Gardens were extensively refurbished, with many of the glazing panels having to be renewed.

        My favourite area is the Winter Gardens, which feature many tropical plants in a massive glasshouse. This is also where the popular café is situated. This area is also available for functions and weddings. I had my own wedding here and it is beautiful surroundings. The ceremony was towards the back of the glasshouse, surrounded by lush vegetation with the meal and reception towards the front of the building, where it is more open, and the café converts to a bar at night.

        The actual museum, the People's Palace, features many different exhibits, ranging from an Anderson shelter, to Billy Connolly's big banana boots, a Lulu dress, a mock up of a Victorian flat, etc. The top floor has a series of paintings by Ken Currie to mark the centenary of Glasgow's Carlton weavers, who were Scotland's first trade union martyrs. The paintings start in 1787 and trace the development of the Scottish labour movement, ending with a vision of the future.

        There is also an interesting exhibit of Glasgow patter, and the intricacies of the Glasgow dialect. This is always a good one for visitors to the city, as they rarely know what is being said.

        Some of the exhibits do look quite dated, and in all the years I've been going there, there doesn't appear to be much change in the exhibits. Hopefully now that the Palace is no longer under direct local authority control, more money can be put into looking after the exhibits.

        There are plenty of free parking spaces outside the museum, although Saturday afternoons can be a bad time for finding spaces. The museum is also within about 10 minutes walk of the city centre, making it easily accessible.

        Also outside the museum is the Doulton Fountain. This is the largest terracotta fountain in the world, having been gifted to the city in 1888, and was designed to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. Following a 2 year refurbishment, where the fountain was dismantled, shipped to England to be restored before being brought back to Glasgow where it was placed outside the People's Palace in 2005.

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        15.10.2004 15:27
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        Glasgow, the dear green place is a city I know fairly well and love. One of the main reasons I love the city is the people. They really make the place, as they are down to earth, friendly and genuine. The Glaswegians make Glasgow. Due to this I have always wanted to go to the People’s Palace, a museum dedicated to the ordinary citizens of this wonderful city, but I have never got the chance to do so until this weekend when I was up visiting some friends in Glasgow.

        The People’s Palace is a social history museum dedicated to Glasgow and its population since 1750 that coincides with Glasgow’s trade in tobacco just before the first blossomings of the industrial revolution, which made Glasgow the city that it is today. I have been to a number of social history museums of varying quality (they tend to all have a mangle, washboard and outside toilet) so I was wondering was how would this compare with others and how would it convey the Glaswegianess of the people? I half expected it to be very similar to the Pumphouse museum on Manchester.

        The People’s Palace is located in Glasgow Green. This is a big park near the river Clyde in the east end of Glasgow. It is within walking distance from the City Centre. The park the oldest one in Glasgow dating back to 1450 has had a fine history of public speakers, concerts and was where the city’s washhouse was. It’s a lovely park and worth half a day if you get that rare Glasgow day without rain.

        The museum itself is a wonderful red brick building with a huge conservatory, the Winter Gardens attached to its side. As it is a local authority museum it is free to get in. it pretty standard opening times being open from 10 to 5pm everyday except Friday and Sunday when it opens an hour later. It is also fully accessible to disabled visitors as it has lifts and disabled toilets.


        The first thing I saw on entering the museum was the Victorian Winter Gardens full of tropical plants and interesting metal sculptures. This was a lovely place to just sit and watch the world go by. My friend told me that it was available for private functions and weddings. It is supposed to be very popular as it is booked up years in advance for weddings. I also noticed a small exhibition of paintings done by patients of the local NHS Trust. It was nice to see the museum was truly the people’s museum and was living and growing.

        There should have been an introductory exhibition “ I belong to Glasgow”. However I either missed this or it was converted into a temporary exhibition on a 100 years of the Kings Theatre The first thing that struck me about this exhibition was the introductory board. It was big and bold and easy to read. This was good interpretation as it was plain to see what this exhibition was about. I really liked the large audiovisual, decorated to look like a theatre stage. It was a good centre piece for the exhibition and provided memories of popular Glaswegian comics alongside an interesting commentary. I also liked a mock up of a mirror in a dressing room. Unfortunately some of the interpretation boards were very busy with red seat backgrounds which I found quite distracting and nigh on impossible to read.

        Upstairs to the next floor and I was captivated by the exhibition on the Glaswegian language “the patter“ in the middle of the floor. The sometimes difficult to understand Glaswegian accent is something that is unique to Glasgow and I thought they displayed this pretty well. The first things you encounter are television screens of Glasgow comics and you can sit in a comfy booth and listen to this. I was also transfixed with an audio soundtrack of children repeating playground rhymes and songs. I may be a Borders girl rather than a Glaswegian one but I remember a lot of them. I must have looked a right numpty (idiot) just singing along with songs such as Ye cannie shove yer Granny aff a bus. I think that is a mark of a good social history museum if you can identify with the exhibits. I also liked some simple lift up flaps with Glaswegian words and their Queen’s English equivalent.

        The next section I skipped through. It was on the world wars. There looked like a good Anderson shelter for kids. I skipped through as I could get the Second World War anywhere and know a bit about Glasgow and Clydebank’s experience in the wars. The next exhibits the dairy and the steamie were more interesting. I think I associate the steamie with Glasgow. It did not matter that it was the old mangle and washboard, as it seemed to be presented differently. I saw a grandmother explaining to her grandkids all about them.

        The other side of the first floor was specifically Glaswegian. There was a model of Duke Street Prison, which I believe is not far from Glasgow Green. There was also an exhibit on the Barrowlands Ballroom, once a favorite place for dancing and now a great place for seeing gigs. They had little cupboards to open that were exact replicas of those in the Barrowlands. Each one had something that represents an element of the Barrowlands including shoes, hats etc.

        Finally on that floor there was an exhibition about the pros and cons of alcohol. I had studied the temperance movement in the West of Scotland and the association of poverty with drinking in my degree course. I found it interesting as it displayed both sides of the argument and had a lot of alcohol paraphernalia including 1990s alcopop bottles. Me and my friend had a good time remembering trying things such as Hooch, Two dogs and diamond Blush from Akrams shop in Stirling University.

        Upstairs did not quite capture my imagination as much as downstairs. The middle seemed to be slightly political which I skipped. I am not that interested in politics. There was also a lot of space devoted to Glasgow’s industrial heritage. I noticed in this part the interpretation was a bit tatty and faded. Some of the words on some of the panels were very difficult to read. I was disappointed at this as the museum had a refurbishment in 1998 to bring it up to date. Either this display was from before the refurbishment or the panel has not been sturdy enough to be already fading. At the end of the industrial section there was a bit about famous Glaswegians. I marveled at Lulu’s 1970s suit but again a lot of it seemed to be a bit tatty.

        The other end of the second floor interested me more. It was on housing another subject I studied in depth in my degree. I found the pictures of a stinking outside toilet in the Gorbals in the 1950s quite poignant and shocking because this was within my parent’s lifetime. They had a display of 19th century housing tickets (these showed how many people a house should hold measured by the house’s size in cubic metres. These houses were often raided in the middle of the night) as they made my lectures come alive. I also really liked a model about a single end (one roomed house) in the old tenements. It was nicely done with a soundtrack of Glaswegian voices and the lighting lit up different parts of the model when they were mentioned. Finally there was a bit on washing and cleanliness with a bath that probably came form a public washhouse and also a hairdryer that looked very like one my mum had when I was wee.

        After that we were back down to the ground floor to explore the cafe and shop. (The important things especially when on a school trip). I was disappointed to find the cafe although nice was ran by Costa Coffee. That did nor feel Glaswegian at all. The shop was not bad. It sold a range of things from school kids souvenirs to Rennie Mackintosh jewellry. It had a good range of books, some tartan tat and the old fashioned advertisements that are a staple of all museum shops. I wanted to get a magnet for my magnet collection but they only had the old adverts ones which I could get anywhere. Instead I bought some coasters with Scottish words on them as my souvenir of my visit.

        The museum seems keen on education. There was a talk on capitalism as part of Black History month but I was not that interested in that. There was also a guided tour around the museum that would have been interesting but it was on after our visit ended.

        My visit was on a Sunday lunchtime and it seemed pretty busy with a number of families visiting. It took about an hour and half to walk round

        I liked the People’s Place. It seemed like a place I could go to again and again if I was in Glasgow more often. I was disappointed with some faded and tatty interpretation and the cafe being run by Costa Coffee but over all I think it did convey the uniqueness of the city and people.

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          22.08.2001 21:29
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          Glasgow is a strange city. It's a big city with a big heart. But like every major city, there are many changes taking place and these changes are not all for the good. Sadly, a lot of important historical items have been lost forever and a lot of old Glasgow is recorded only in the memories of our senior citizens. Years ago, the city streets looked impressive and regal, with people bustling about the narrow pavements, cars and buses travelling up and down the teeming streets, giving an air of excitement and industry. Many paintings and early photographs were taken of the City as it changed gradually. Nowadays, everything seems so small. Old buildings seem unsightly in their new surroundings, the Victorian architecture at odds with the gory monstrosities of sixties designs and ugly fast food establishments. (I have no doubt that once we colonise the Moon, McDonalds will be the first commercial enterprise). Workmen lay down new paving stones on what used to be roads, turning the once-bustling streets into precincts, which gives the illusion of bringing buildings both sides of the street closer together. The Broomlielaw used to be teeming with small ships and from here you could sail to Ireland. Along the river front where warehouses laden with all sorts of exotic goods from overseas, and Scottish goods destined for foreign markets. There must be many sketches or paintings of these bustling docks. But last night, as I stood by the banks of the Clyde on the Broomlielaw, on the spot where steamers used to depart taking holidaymakers 'doon the watter' to coastal towns, a familiar feeling came over me - the evening sun shone on the glass of tall buildings, giving off an eerie orange light. Looking around, I could still see the almost invisible splendour that was Glasgow, at times a dangerous city - but most times a friendly, warm city with beautiful buildings and people full of character. But what a histor
          y Glasgow has! So many tragedies, so much laughter, so many dark secrets. The City Fathers should ensure that all the relics, documents, in fact ANY Glasgow memorabilia should be stored and saved. Sadly, that is not the fact and priceless records have been destroyed needlessly. The People's Palace and the Mitchell Library can only hold so much and many records and artefacts of Glasgow have been lost or stored away uncatalogued. I'm not talking about renovating old buildings that would use up resources that could be used for much needed social projects - no, I'm talking about simply storing artefacts relating to Glasgow somewhere safe, where volunteers (like me) would be delighted to sift through them. Recently, I did some research and I was horrified to learn that a certain union's records, banners, strike leaflets and other documents were destroyed 'to make room'. Among those records were names of famous people and actual accounts of infamous Glasgow strikes. Before I get flak from people who will say that I am living in the past, nothing could be further from the truth. I have to duck and dive like the rest of you in this modern world to survive. But my hobby is to find out what made Glasgow what it is today, to see it's prosperity, it's decline, it's prosperity again, and to find out about the people that made it all possible. A very interesting hobby indeed. Update: The Peoples' Palace is located on Glasgow Green, a public park and is a museum housing many artefacts about Glasgow. More recent exhibits include Billy Connolly's suit and banana wellies. The Mitchell Library is the main library of Glasgow and keeps records of newspapers, Glasgow publications, census lists and all things to do with the history of Glasgow. It has other departments specialising in other subjects and is a very important source of reference for students and researchers.

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            13.07.2000 21:38
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            The People's Palace is a wealth of information on Glasgow and its past. It was reopened in 1998 after rennovation that brought its much dated interior up to date. Most people growing up in and around Glasgow will I imagine have fond memories of the Peoples Palace from school visits every summer! One of my favourite parts is what is effectively a large greenhouse in which there is a tropical garden - i used to eat my pieces (sandwiches to those not familiar with the lingo!) there on school trips. It has a vast collection of sub tropical plants which are kept at a constantly humid temperature. The exhibitions vary throughout the year although one of my favourites has been that of Ken Currie the Scots artist who depicts Scottish history. There is also an exhibition on the traditional ways of living in the olden days and another favourite being a whole area devoted to the patter of the city. Highly recommended.

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