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Kelvingrove Museum's fundraising appeal


The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow is my favourite museum. I've been going there for as long as I can remember, and it's full of great art and hosts more then 8,000 exhibits in a beautiful old building just out of the centre of Glasgow. It's always in the top three free (all public museums are free in Scotland) visitor attractions in Scotland, and I've blogged about visiting it last year, as well as blogging about one of its dinosaur exhibits.

That's why I was delighted to help them out with their fundraising appeal to revamp the West Court in the museum - one of my favourite spaces, full of fantastic natural history exhibits, skeletons, and topped off with a suspended Spitfire flying through the gallery. This is how I was helping out with the publicity yesterday - and why I hope it will help raise £10,000 towards putting new exhibits on show ! Read on to find out more about my day, and how you can help...

Me and the Kelvingrove

As I said, I've been coming to Kelvingrove for years; above is when I was eight, but I've actually been coming from way before then. Even back then, I remember seeing the spitfire in the Life Gallery for the first time and thinking how amazing it was. Below is the Life Gallery, with Sir Roger the elephant next to me and the spitfire above. In this one I was eleven, with my brother, Sam and my me holding my youngest brother Harry.

The museum means a lot to me - and me seeing the animals and bones on display definitely influenced my interest in bones. It's helped me a lot, and so it's nice to give something back when I was asked to take part.

The West Gallery

The Life Gallery has a lot more than Sir Roger and the spitfire. It also has a skeleton of a champion race horse, called Baron, LOADS of stuffed animals, from giraffes to a puma. They also have a section for gemstones, and one for the Japanese spider crab, the biggest crab in the world. Below is Sir Roger, who has been in the museum since it opened more than 100 years ago.

The spitfire is the main reason the West Court is being closed. It is suspended by wires which need to be checked every ten years, and it is almost ten years since the museum had a major refurbishment. To bring the spitfire down means clearing a huge amount of the court, so the museum decided to change the display at the same time, to keep it looking great, and to include new exhibits. That will happen over six months, starting this autumn.

The photocall

I was asked some months ago to help out with the photocall, which was the official launch of the fundraising campaign. I've been photographed and filmed lots of times before, but this was my first photocall with lots of journalists, camera operators and photographers. 

I knew that for the photo call, I was going to hold a moa bone. When I arrived, I saw that a big part of the Life Gallery was lined off with barriers. Small children in masks had their photos taken first, with Liz Dent, the chair of Friends of Glasgow Museums, and Neil Ballantyne, the manager of the museum. While that was under way, I was introduced to Richard Sutcliffe, the research manager at Natural Sciences in Glasgow.  He brought the moa bones from where he worked and then he showed me them.

Just before my photo shoot, I was interviewed by a journalist, asking for my opinion on the fundraising. Then came a second, who asked me near enough the same questions.

From left to right: Neil Ballantyne, Richard Sutcliffe, Liz Dent and me

Then came the photo shoot. I was asked to stand on the end, holding the tibiotarsus, while Richard was holding the tarsometatarsus. Both of us had to wear gloves, as the oils on our skin could damage the bones over time. There were four photographers taking photos of us.

Next was a picture of just me and Richard in the gallery next to the Life Gallery, both holding our moa bones up, with the Irish elk in the background.

The photographers had to either kneel or lie down to get the right picture. After about five minutes of holing the bones, they asked for a few pictures of just me. The photographer of the left, lying down is one of my dads old work friend, Wattie.

This was the finished picture looked like this. I thought it looked pretty cool.

After that, Neil gave me a tour of the dinosaur exhibit downstairs, which I really enjoyed. Neil was extremely nice, he was obviously very busy and important, but he took a lot of time to show me around.

STV News

STV Glasgow were keen to do a long piece for their News At Ten. It was going to be a three minute piece filmed at the museum, then a longer six minute interview back with Neil at the studio. They filmed a quick piece with me right outside the exhibition.

After lunch, and after a bit of a look round, I went over to the STV studio with my dad and cousin Ruth. It's on the banks of the River Clyde not far from the museum, next to the BBC studios which I know quite well. I met Neil again there in reception, and I thought what answers I was going to say. 

After a short while we were taken through to make-up, then into the studio for the interview to meet Amy Irons, the presenter. It was going to be pre-recorded, but we did the entire thing as if it was live without any retakes.

The piece from the museum was shown first, then it went to the interview. Neil was asked most of the questions, because he was the most important one there.

Here's the full video ! My main parts are at 1:48 and 6:23.

I still have a little bit to remember for next time: to hold my hands together, and to keep my eyeline up. You also can't see int he video, but just before I went on air I got my foot tangled up in the cables below the desk, and I had to try and get it loose without being too obvious.

After we recorded that, Neil and I said our goodbyes, and he was very kind.

It was interesting to watch it when it went live, and I was quite pleased with it. Then this morning I had a hospital appointment, and dad bought a copy of The National newspaper, which my picture was included in.  I was quoted on Radio Clyde 1, and the story was covered by the BBC and the Evening Times, as well as lots of other places.

So how can you help ?

This is a great appeal - and with your money the museum can add some incredible new exhibits, like the leopard which was donated to the museum, but which has been kept frozen until money could be found to have it properly stuffed and mounted.

This museum has inspired thousands of young naturalists like me in the past - and hopefully it can continue to do so in the future.

To donate, text WEST COURT to 70300 (UK only) to give £3 or visit www.glasgowlife.org.uk/support-us - every single pound is really valuable. I have donated - I hope you do as well !

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