Glasgow's superb Riverside Museum opened in 2011 and you can find out more from our feature page about the museum. The museum shown on this page has closed, and most of its exhibits were moved to the Riverside Museum. For historical interest we are maintaining this page, which remains as it was before the old Museum of Transport's closure.
Glasgow's Museum of Transport occupies the vast rear half of the Kelvin Hall, placing it virtually opposite the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. It is one of the UK's most popular transport museums, attracting around half a million visitors each year with its fascinating collections of exhibits. Admission is free.
The Museum of Transport first opened in 1964 in the former Coplawhill Tram Depot in southern Glasgow, accommodation made available after the demise of Glasgow's tram system in 1962. The museum moved to its current premises in the Kelvin Hall in 1988. But, perhaps appropriately for a Museum of Transport, it is planning to move again. This will be to the superb Riverside Museum that Glasgow City Council are building on the north bank of the River Clyde a little west of the SECC. The design, by architect Zaha Hadid, is flowing and attractive, and it is planned for the museum to be in residence by Spring 2011.
It has to be admitted that the current premises, though offering considerable quantities of space to the museum, must otherwise be hindering its development. The contrast with Kelvingrove across the road could not be greater. Instead of a flamboyant building demanding attention, the Museum of Transport has had to make do with the less visible parts of the Kelvin Hall, and with an entrance that is slightly hidden away down the side of the building overlooking the River Kelvin.
The interior of the Museum of Transport is divided into a number of separate areas. Immediately in front of you beyond the entrance is, as you would expect, the reception area, with a shop nearby. Most of the exhibition areas extend off to your right from here: but not all of them.
Off to the left as you enter is one of the museum's most attractive and atmospheric areas, Kelvin Street. This recreates a typical Glasgow street as it would have been in 1938. The street comes complete with parked cars and a truck, while many of the shop fronts recreate their look on the eve of the second world war. What is particularly nice is that some of the frontages conceal far more than you expect.
Go into the Regal Cinema and you find yourself in a typical cinema reception area of the time with, beyond it, a real cinema showing a selection of films on subjects such as Glasgow's history and public transport over the past century. On the other side of Kelvin Street a doorway giving access to an underground station does exactly what it says, and inside you find yourself on a replica underground station platform, complete with trains.
The rest of the museum is more... well... museum-like. Collections of various types are displayed by theme, compete with background information about the objects on view. The part of the museum nearest the side from which you enter has a large mezzanine floor. Part of this is given over to collections of bicycles, varying in size up to a four seater; a collection of prams; and a very nice collection of motorcycles.
In a complete change of tone, part of the mezzanine is also home to the story of Pan Am Flight 103 and a memorial to the 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 residents of Lockerbie who were killed when the Boeing 747 crashed on the town following a terrorist attack.
Elsewhere on the mezzanine floor is the Clyde Room. This contains a breathtaking collection of some 250 highly detailed ship models. Most of these were made at 1:48 scale, so some are very large indeed; and most are of ships actually built on the Clyde and produced as promotional tools by the firms that made the ships themselves.
The ground floor beneath the mezzanine contains collections of vintage and classic cars, many horse-drawn vehicles, and a selection of caravans with origins as wide ranging as a 1918 traditional travellers "vard" and accommodation used by residents of the Faslane Peace Camp.
But by far the largest area of the museum lays beyond the mezzanine area and is occupied by what might be called as the heavy collections owned by the Museum of Transport. Here you find a recreated railway station around which are a number of engines and carriages plus a striking collection of large locomotives. Not far away is the extensive collection of old trams and buses, most in the traditional colours of Glasgow Corporation.
As you wander around there are a number of surprises. These include the school bus from the TV programme Balamory; an impressive display of Pakistani truck art; various emergency service vehicles including a very purposeful police Ford Granada; and a Ford Fiesta after it had been crash-tested.
And after you have found your way around what turns out to be a very extensive museum, relief is at hand: a set of steps at the back of the main area of the museum lead up to the attractive "transport café" which offers superb views back over the exhibits.