This evening, my focus is on the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art with particular emphasis on the history of the building in the context of the commercial development of Glasgow.

Today, the building houses an art collection displayed on four floors with each floor designed to reflect the elements air, water, earth and fire.  However, the building actually dates back to the 18th century and the prosperity generated by the tobacco trade with America.

The plot of land on which the building sits lies at the junction of Ingram Street and Queen Street, in the city centre. This plot was purchased in 1788 by one Richard Cunninghame, then one of  Glasgow’s richest tobacco ‘Lords’ . Cunninghame then proceeded to build a lavish mansion at a cost reputed to be GBP10,000, a huge sum of money for those days. Unfortunately, the architect of the building remains unknown. In 1789 the mansion was sold to John Stirling and then again in 1817 to the Royal Bank of Scotland. In 1827 the Royal Bank sold the building to a consortium of business interests and was re-named the Royal Exchange. In 1884 an equestrian statute depicting the Duke of Wellington on his horse ‘Copenhagen’  was erected in front of the building where it remains to this day (see image below).

Post WW2, in 1949, Glasgow City Council purchases the building for GBP105,000 and then in 1996 the building is opened as the Gallery of Modern art.

It should be noted that the interior still contains traces of the original 18th century mansion house.

Clearly, the building has quite an illustrious history linked in with development of the early America colonies and Glasgow’s prominent role in tobacco trading.

Gallery of Modern Art

Modern Art Gallery, Glasgow

Elsewhere today, I have been working on the detail on two group tours of Scotland for next year plus a private, ancestry themed tour of Paisley.

On the weather front, we are enjoying a relatively mild spell giving rise to snow melt. However, the next cold snap is on the horizon!

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