This post is written by Meabh who blogs on Growing Wild in Scotland. She lives in North Ayrshire and loves growing food and foraging.
Not many places tick all the dream day out boxes of a) free entry, 2) educational, 3) child friendly, 4) easy to get to, 5) fun for all family members & ages and 6) serves coffee and food.
The new incarnation of Glasgow’s Museum of Transport, or the Riverside Museum as it is now named, ticks all these boxes and more. A word on when to plan your visit – aim to arrive at 10am, and preferably not on a weekend as the place is jumping. We arrived shortly after it opened on a Wednesday morning and had a blissful hour and a half of space and quiet before literally coach loads of people, mostly children emptied into the museum. The ratio of children to adults is pretty frightening! But hey, that’s because we’re bang in the middle of summer holidays, and this is Glasgow’s newest free attraction.
I’ve heard that a lot of people have been complaining that the car park is too small, and there are signs everywhere naming the overspill car parks nearby to deal with this. But I don’t believe that the museum will continue to attract such huge crowds once the initial buzz of interest calms down. Also, the museum is well serviced by buses and ferries, so there’s no need to drive there.
As well as being a stunning piece of architecture, by the wonderful Zaha Hadid, the museum is really cleverly put together and truly caters for everyone whatever their age and taste. Even my toddler’s minuscule attention span was enthralled by some of the features. We split up so that my partner could enjoy some of the displays in peace and quiet whilst I zipped around the place with the wild toddler. The hour and a half we spent inside, and half hour playing outside was not long enough at all. However we just know that we’ll be back many times, probably more so when the weather changes and we are desperate to get out and about on wet afternoons later in the year!
There are two cafes inside the museum and three vans outside selling hot dogs, coffee, sweeties, sandwiches etc so there’s good choice whatever the weather and the age of your party. We were so lucky to be there on a hot sunny day so sat in the sun outside watching Baby Wild build sandcastles and silently stalk other children (she’s a bit shy with strangers still – long may that last!)
Many of the displays are interactive, with games for children & adults to play with whilst learning more about some of the engineering and history of transport in Scotland. Best of all, all of the interactive displays are voiced by locals with great big broad Glaswegian accents.
We couldn’t agree which parts were our favourite. I can’t decide between Arnold Clark’s Wall of Cars, or the cinema documentary showing in one of the stalls. Daddy Wild had to be torn away from Colin Macrae’s rally car, and lingered by both the motorbike corner and the model ships. I think making a display of model boats interesting is a pretty impressive feat! If Baby Wild could answer I more coherently I think she would be split between the model street and the old subway. She’s mad into cars at the moment, in particular tractors for some bizarre reason! So maybe that was the one and only minor downfall – there were no tractors!
Inside, you are still aware of the stunning design & architecture of the building. Everything is streamline and sleek & modern, with great attention to detail and is typical of Hadid’s genius. The layout is clever and busy, so that I reckon every time we return we’ll find something we missed before. The small shop sells a wide selection of memorabilia and gifts and I saw no shortage of things I would have liked to buy for a lot of friends and got plenty of inspiration for some upcoming birthdays!
Lots of toilets, baby changing, cafes, seats, easy access, tall ships, boat rides, interactive displays and things for toddlers to climb on and ride in, making it possibly the most perfect day out around Glasgow. And it’s FREE! How fantastic is that?!
Scoring / 10
baby friendly 10
toddler friendly 10
adult friendly 20
car parking get there early or get a bus/ferry. Cheap parking though.
cost Free!! But do please leave a donation.