Palace of Art, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow
Being a curator, it might seem too obvious to choose a building called the Palace of Art as my favourite, but I genuinely think this is the best building in Glasgow. Designed by Launcelot Ross (1885–1956) for the 1938 Empire Exhibition, it is the only building that still exists from this historic exposition in Bellahouston Park. As its name indicates, it was made to display art, and specifically the art collection of Glasgow Corporation.
When I first discovered it, I was incredibly excited. It seemed so different to the grand, ornate buildings that I was used to seeing and inhabiting in Glasgow. Here was a beautiful modernist Art Deco building, with clean lines, floor-to-ceiling windows and lots of natural light streaming in throughout the whole space. Long corridors with glass walls on one side surround a central open-air courtyard, complete with a long thin pool and planters filled with shrubs and succulents. On a sunny day this building feels a million miles away from its city dwelling; it is a peaceful sanctuary and, to my mind, the perfect space in which to display art. Whenever I walk through its rooms, I find myself thinking about what I might like to show here. Sadly, however, the Palace of Art hasn’t been used as a gallery since 1951. In the 1960s it was turned into a sports centre and today remains a council-run leisure centre.
Glasgow is a city renowned for its arts and culture, but many of its visual arts organisations do not inhabit spaces that were originally built as art galleries – Tramway (which hosts this year’s Turner Prize) is a former tram shed; Glasgow Sculpture Studios occupies an old warehouse that was originally a whisky bond and later a mushroom factory; GoMA is in a former bank; and the Common Guild resides in a 19th-century townhouse. With this is mind, it seems ironic that there lies an exceptional purpose-built building in the south side of Glasgow, crying out to show art.