Winner - European Museum of the Year
The Riverside Museum is a simply outstanding city museum. It sees more than 1.3 million visitors per year, in a city of just 600,000 people. Not only is it hugely successful with the public, it is also widely celebrated by critics – it was named the European Museum of the Year.
Glasgow Museums invited us to masterplan a new home for the city’s transport collections. We started from a blank sheet of paper and began designing from the inside out – starting with the exhibition’s interpretive concept and letting that drive the architectural design.
Designing from the inside out
Our interpretive concept evolved around the idea of Glasgow being on the move – a city of connections and crossings, movement and activity. The architectural competition was awarded to Zaha Hadid. We worked collaboratively and creatively throughout. There was a real sense of fusion as seasoned professionals talked almost every day, coming together to spark ideas and working to bring the vision to life.
The resulting museum is a thing of beauty. A sense of momentum connects the interior and exterior. The building is a pure and clean expression of movement and fluidity – a direct response to our concept. Likewise, the displays within are full of movement and inject life back into the collections. Catch a locomotive cantilevered off the second floor or watch a continuous mechanical carousel of moving ship models. Find bicycles soaring overhead on a velodrome-esque mobius track suspended from the ceiling or see cars swerve down a slope winding around a curve of the building in a nod to Glasgow’s famous test hill.
How transport changes lives and livelihoods
The Riverside Museum is not so much a showcase of transport and technology, but of the way that transport has changed our lives. How bicycles empowered women, canals transformed cities’ fortunes and trains fuelled revolutions. Interpretation is deliberately open and accessible. From a wall of cars to the museum’s much-loved street recreations, the galleries are full to the brim with iconic instagramable moments that continue to draw crowds in and delight at every turn.
Glasgow City Council
Zaha Hadid Architects