Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Glasgow Museum of Transport again


Since posting about the opening of the Museum recently I've now had a chance to visit.

On a beautiful sunny day the place it seemed that most of Glasgow was there and the attraction was obvious, an historic location for maritime exhibits, an utterly fabulous building, inside as well as out and a great backdrop for the Glenlee.

But the feeling of elation at the sight of the place subsided pretty quickly when we came upon the ship models. If anything there appear to be even fewer than were on display at the old Kelvin Hall location but, far worse, they are displayed most oddly.

About half of the collection is mounted on a rather dark wall behind glass, so that they can only be viewed from one side. They have no captions, but there is a touch screen which would have enabled me to access information, had there not already been someone using it.

The main point of any model is to enable one to experience features of the design and the model-maker's art from every angle. Showing them in a two-dimensional way frustrates this totally.

The remaining half are mounted on a sort of conveyor belt, so you get a few seconds to see each one if you're lucky and there aren't too many others standing in front of you.

There's been a fair amount of correspondence in the Press making the same sort of point that I'm making, often in relation to the displays of cars on the walls and the upside-down bicycles, so I'm not going to go on. What is disappointing is when they've been accused of dumbing-down, of which they're undoubtedly guilty, the museum management have not responded constructively, but have been very quick to accuse their critics of elitism. All very depressingly predictable.

I suggest it would have been indeed surprising if those who created the museum had got everything right from the start. Most of the really big things are just about perfect, including the building and its siting. On a spectrum running from crude visitor attraction to a serious educational and informative experience the museum currently sits too far towards the former. If the management are big enough to accept constructive criticism they should be able to effect some repositioning without putting off those who just want a nice day by the water.

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The Wherrymen

The Wherrymen
Two old friends on the water