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Finding Contemporary Art in Glasgow

Glasgow is full of art. With a long history of encouraging, producing, and venerating artists, this Scottish city is nowadays an excellent place to experience contemporary art of all kinds. And, like most museums and art galleries in the UK, there are so many with free entry you’ll be spoiled for choice in Glasgow!

On the Streets

There’s some really cool street art to be found on exterior walls around Glasgow, including some extremely lifelike portraits by Smug, several ambitious and iconic series by Rogue One, and various, striking animals by Klingatron, among other well known artists and some you’ve probably never heard of. You really don’t have to look far in the city centre to find some great murals, and the city does an excellent job of maintaining them against damage and protecting them against the elements. Just have a walk around and see what you stumble across!

Gallery of Modern Art

Housed in an 18th-century mansion in the city centre, this has only been a museum for the last twenty years, and puts on a range of temporary exhibitions and workshops. Guarded at its entrance by a statue of the Duke of Wellington on his horse with his signature traffic cone hat – a tradition that was started in the 1980s and has become something of a symbol for the city – the gallery itself is reasonably small, but packs in some very interesting and worthwhile exhibitions using a range of media.

The Lighthouse

This unusual 19th-century building, erected in the centre of Glasgow to look like a lighthouse by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, was originally commissioned as the office of the Glasgow Herald newspaper. Nowadays, it’s an arts and event space that also is home to a couple of offices for local design companies. There are regularly changing, temporary exhibitions relating to all kinds of visual art, including typography, architecture, interior design, and photography. At the very top of the building, there is a viewing platform which affords a unique view over the rooftops of the city, which is worth checking out, too.

Trongate 103

More than just an art gallery, this place holds workshops of various kinds, boasts several different kinds of production facilities, and has artist studio spaces available for rent. There’s also a very pleasant cafe; and of course, there are exhibition spaces open to the public as well as occasional film screenings, talks, and Q&As with artists.

Center for Contemporary Art

Not just an art gallery, this cultural center hosts film nights, live music events, dramatic and spoken word performances, and workshops, as well as photography exhibitions and installations. It also runs several public engagement programmes intended to engage the local community in the arts, something which seems to be getting more and more popular in Scotland. The center itself is a noteworthy location, with a minimal, modern design and a lovely cafe and restaurant, Saramago, which serves excellent vegan food.

Have you ever been to Glasgow? If so, what’d you think? Any suggestions for seeing art in the city? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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