Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Library File Goes to Glasgow - Part Two

The Library at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)

My second library trip during my stay in Glasgow was to the community library which can be found in the basement of GoMA. 

Although the library is just a small branch library with the usual stock (popular fiction, crime, romance, biographies, CDs, DVDs and PCs for internet use) a trip there necessitates a visit to the art gallery, or, at the very least, the foyer and gallery shop.

Entrance to the gallery is free, so I took the chance to have a look at what is on display whilst I was there. The large neo-classical hall on the ground floor is currently showing an exhibition called Every Day which features sculptures by Glasgow-based artists. As the title of the show suggests, many of the objects on display seemed rather mundane: a chair, an umbrella, blocks of concrete, for example.
The ground floor exhibition hall.
I can't say that I was particularly interested in the artwork on display, but the hall is extremely beautiful and I was pleased that I was permitted to take photographs.

The half-dome glass ceiling at the entrance of the hall.
I don't usually get that excited about conceptual art, but on the second floor of the gallery I came across Der Lauf Der Dinge or The Way Things Go, a 1987 film showing an installation set up by the Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. This art film is a compelling thirty minute "performance" of every day, inanimate objects moving solely through gravity and chemical reactions. You can see the whole film on YouTube.

When I had finished looking around the gallery I went down to the library which shares the basement with the cafe. The library takes up the right hand side of the room and although the two services share the same space there is a definite physical separation which is created by the book shelves. The library is split into several areas with small sections being formed by the shelves with a central corridor that runs the length of the library and passage ways that divide each section. This arrangement makes each section feel cosy and private, a feeling that is enhance by the low ceilings.

The shelving, furniture and lighting are modern but the original features of the building can be seen in the marble pillars which dictate the size of each of the sections of the library.

There has been a library in the building (Royal Exchange) since 1954 when Stirling's Library first arrived there. Stirling's Library was Glasgow's oldest free library, opened 1791. The library was established from a bequest of Walter Stirling, a Glasgow merchant. It was originally located in Miller Street, only moving to the Royal Exchange (today's GoMA) in 1954. In the 1990s the library left the building while it was refitted as an art gallery. The library returned in 2002 as the Library at GoMA. Items of worth from the original Stirling's Library are now held at the Mitchell Library. 

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