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The Kelvingrove Museum (and my 300th post !)


This is my 300th post since I started blogging in July 2009 ! I did a big post when I reached 100, but I haven't really bothered with any milestones since then (I almost forgot about this one too !). It is also a good time to write about the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow because it is the museum I have visited the most, and each time I plan to write a blog post but never get round to it.

It is one of my favourite museums in Scotland, and I've visited a few, like the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the McManus and the D'Arcy Thomson Museum in Dundee, Perth Art Gallery and Museum, the Huntarian, the Stirling Smith Museum and the Bell Pettigrew Museum. So here's my write up of it !

This is how long I've been meaning to blog about it ! This is me in 2010, soon after I started blogging with my friend Innes:

And here's me at the end of 2012 with my brothers and my dad just before my dad lost them temporarily mislaid them:

So it's nice to FINALLY get round to writing about it !

Mixing it up

I like the Kelvingrove Museum because it likes to mix up its collections. It has a fantastic building, much better than the National Museum of Scotland, and it has some amazing things, like this Spitfire plane in one of the galleries:

The Spitfire is flying over a giraffe and an elephant, which makes it bizarre and brilliant at the same time:

At the back of the giraffe was a great idea, putting the leg bones of the giraffe out so you can measure yourself next to them. That scapula is amazing; I think it is so narrow because it doesn't ever go at a big angle away from the body to help keep balance. I'm not sure why they put the front leg bones next to the back leg, though.

This moose was next to the giraffe. It is amazing how the antlers have evolved so differently from, say red deer:

Another example of how they mix things up was this display of weapons, where a weapon made up of shark teeth was next to a shark jaw, right next to guns and human weapons. The display also talked about other animals defences.

Humans have thinner skulls than most animals because we wear helmets. I would have loved to have known more about this helmet but couldn't find a label. This is a bit of a recurring problem at this museum.

This is a elephant tusk with lots of very fine carvings on it:

It's hard to imagine how long this must have taken and with what skill as well:

The skulls

The skulls can be found all over the museum. This is the giant hippo skull. Hippos have very big teeth which always seem to stick out at random angles:

This is the Northern bottlenose whale skull. They are one of the deepest sea divers, but the shape is still very similar to my harbour porpoise skull which is much smaller:

This is a capybara skull, which is the biggest type of rodent in the world. Rodents are the family which includes animals from rat and mice to squirrels and beavers:

This is the Irish elk, which I think museums are forced to display by law. Their antlers are incredibly big, and look out of proportion for the rest of the body, and look quite like the moose antlers. If you look closely, you can see that the spine is absolutely perfectly straight. Was it like that in real life , or was it just easier when putting an iron bar through it ?

The Irish Elk was in a room dedicated to natural history (and a dinosaur !) that I'll come to in a minute.

The horse

Just before you get to the Irish Elk room, there is this beautiful skeleton with a great story. Baron O'Buchlyvie was a horse born in 1900 and was sold two years later. He was sold again in 1911 for £9500, which would have been a huge amount then. But in 1914 he was kicked in the leg and he broke his radius. He was put down after that, but was later dug up and put up for exhibition:

It looks like a spiral fracture which is what I had when I broke my tibia last year. The break is clean because it was killed before the bone had a chance to regrow:

This is his skull. You can see how the teeth are in the original condition, even though the bone has been cleaned, which is nice:

The wildlife room

This room was fantastic, with animals everywhere you looked (including a dinosaur at the other end, which I am going to write about in a separate post):

This display of the two red deet stags is really well done and posed:

This is two of my favourite birds of prey; red kite, and a white tailed sea eagle. I see red kite a lot near my house, and I saw the sea eagle when I was on holiday in Skye:

This is one of Scotland's rare birds: the capercaillie, which at one time was thought to be likely to have become extinct in the Uk by now. I have never seen one but I really want to. It's a type of large grouse, and they both have the red eyebrow above the eye:

The polecat is a mustelid, the same family as badgers, weasels and pine martens. I've never seen one in the wild:

This is a real life haggis ! I wrote about my haggis skull a couple of years ago, right at the start of April.

They had two animatronic dinosaurs when I visited, but they are not there all the time. My brothers thought this was really cool:

This is fur and bone from a extinct woolly rhino, that they found just outside of Glasgow. It was interesting because you don't always think of Scotland as a place to find remains of long extinct species like these:

This crocodile was in another gallery, high up on glass so you could walk under it. I noticed this card under it and looked closer:

It asked questions about whether God took six days to make the earth, and how did all the animals fit in the ark ? (The second one is easy. Noah didn't need to take the ducks.)


At the other side of the museum was a display which talked about evolution, which brought about these changes in the species which eventually ended up as humans over millions of years. 

You could also see how the horse leg has evolved over millions of years as another example. It's interesting to compare with deer feet, which are slightly similar, and which I know a lot more about:

I liked this orangutan. Look at the toes and fingers, which are long in proportion to the body because orangutans have adapted to living in trees.

Label your skeletons !

One of the things that Kelvingrove Museum is not very good at is having labels on everything they show, which is frustrating. In the same room as the evolution exhibit was an unlabelled squirrel skeleton:

And these horse, shark, harbour porpoise, fox and rabbit skull were all unlabelled !

And you have to look on the museum website to find out whether Sir Roger the Elephant, who lived at a zoo in Glasgow until October 1900 when he was put down, was an African or Asian elephant. (He's an Asian one, you can tell by the ears).

Despite all this, Kelvingrove Museum is still a great museum, and I'm proud to have finally written about it for  my 300th post !

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Ric said...

It's a great museum Jake, hope they get their fingers out on the labeling very soon.

Christine Sutcliffe said...

That creationist card thing clearly wasn't put there by the museum and it really irks me that someone's obviously chucked it up there intentionally! Grrr.
The labelling thing IS a pain though - my dad and I have had many discussions on that very subject many times! - but sometimes it comes down to what the designers *think* is best unfortunately. :/
I do love KG though, despite its flaws; it's very important to my family and I've grown up with it to a certain extent - my dad's office used to be where the tearoom is now!

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