Show People and Museum folk – a dialogue

Situated at the farthest point of a small industrial estate in the South Side of Glasgow are two large conjoined buildings with corridor upon corridor of enigmatic doors leading to rooms dubbed ‘pods’. Each pod houses myriad objects from taxidermy to towering suits of armour; fine art; sculptures; photographs; fossils; trams; bicycles; crockery; musical instruments and more besides.
There are 17 of these purpose-built, environmentally controlled pods that house approximately 1.4 million objects.

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This is where our Fair Glasgow working group met on 14th June. Tracey Hawkins, Assistant Curator of collections at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre took us on a whistle-stop tour of the parts of the collection that we thought might be of most interest to our friends from the show community. It became immediately obvious how helpful and interesting the experience was going to be when one of the first paintings was pulled out. It showed travellers playing instruments and we soon discovered that it had absolutely no relevance to our visitors. We looked at some lovely paintings that were made by Carl Pinder and a G.W. Pinder.

G.W. Pinder may or may not have a connection to the circus and I look forward to finding out more about that.

I harped on about our magic lantern and cinematograph collection (although it was pretty succinct for me I must say!). Duncan mentioned some mirrors that he thought had gone missing and it transpires that we do in fact have them in our Maryhill stores. Another thing I look forward to discovering more about! I also found we had a fount of knowledge in our midst as Duncan knows so much about Greens and the Vinegar Hill site.

Myself and fellow Riverside curator Neil Johnson-Symington found our visit to the large vehicle store so incredibly interesting and useful. The information and memories, corrections and additions that we gained were invaluable. I am very excited to have been given the task of looking after our horse-drawn collection only last week and so, for me, it was especially exciting to talk about our horse-drawn showman’s wagon.

We finished the tour down in the research room where various objects had been laid out. Personally, I found the ephemera fascinating. One picture in particular of Glasgow Fair had so much in it that I feel I could have spent an age looking at it and discovering new things.

There was also an Eccles model made by a Mr Cake (hehe!) and it was immediately obvious to the show folk amongst us that it was made by a model-making hobbyist rather than a show person.

It’s little nuggets of information like this that will help us to properly interpret and care for our objects and allow us to make informed decisions about future collecting.

I’ll finish up by letting you know that when we were heading up to the office after our tour Neil turned to me and said ‘That was amazing!’.

I wholeheartedly second that. What a fantastic visit! I’ll finish up with a few photos to give the show people a taste of the many pods that we weren’t able to visit…armour-598x336????????????

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(the fish is a coffin from Ghana)

All images in this post were shamelessly stolen from Google Images.

One comment

  1. Chekovita

    Hi,

    I put a little post about our visit to GMRC on a museum staff blog and thought I’d share one of the replies from a GMRC gallery assistant called Janice with you:

    “I’m sorry I missed you visiting GMRC Heather, it would have been good to see everyone. The next time you are together as a group, look up the BBC Our Paintings page and check out the painting we have in Pod 4 called ‘Glasgow Fair in the Saltmarket’ by E King, it shows Bostock and Wombwells travelling menagerie and various fair ground attractions going on. I’m not sure it will stir any memories though as it’s supposed to depict a scene from 1849!!! …”

    Heather

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