Riverside: Moving Stories ArtWorks Scotland


Riverside: Moving Stories

ArtWorks Scotland marks the opening of Glasgow's new Riverside Museum by going behind the scenes to tell the story of its design, construction and fitting out.


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In 2002 Glasgow City Council decided it needed a new home for its transport collection.

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I can't wait. I've got to say it's going to be quite spectacular.

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It's been called an unbuildable building.

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We won't work on something quite like this again.

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It's taken almost nine years and cost over £70 million.

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It's definitely a bit fancier.

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It's been designed by one of the world's great architects.

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I don't know about inside but it's looking good on the outside.

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It'll hold thousands of objects from Scotland and around the world.

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It's a bit gallus. I think it fits into the Glasgow psyche.

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It's got to please half-a-million people that visited the old museum every year.

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There will be so many people through that door, it won't be true.

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We won't cope. But we'll have to.

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It's a visionary new home for the city's heritage.

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It's been a struggle at times but really enjoyable.

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But has Glasgow managed to create a new museum fit for the 21st century?

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After 25 years of transporting visitors back in time and around the world,

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Glasgow's Museum of Transport finally closed its doors,

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ready for its contents to be moved to a new purpose-built home.

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The climate of the much-loved building at the side

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of the Kelvin Hall couldn't be properly controlled

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and some of the vehicles were beginning to deteriorate.

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So the long journey to preserve, pack up

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and send the hundreds of objects on their way began.

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We had a bit of trouble with the weather.

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So a lot of things didn't get moved, too dangerous.

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Apart from that, it's going fine.

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It got closed here, they told us to go because it got too cold.

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And to dangerous for the vehicles as well. As well as us.

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Us last!

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Wrapping up the trams and buses and trains

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and cars took hundreds of people and years of careful planning.

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Moving them just half-a-mile down the road gave the city fathers

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the chance to take the collection to the old industrial heart of Glasgow. The River Clyde.

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It's been a hectic few years for the man whose vision is central

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to the Riverside.

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Project director since its conception in 2002,

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Lawrence Fitzgerald.

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This is where we'll welcome visitors into the museum.

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This is the main entrance, just off the events plaza.

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I think it's a fantastic response by Zaha Hadid, the architect, to our brief.

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What we asked for was a very flexible column-free space,

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and what they gave us was this fantastic building with this magnificent roof.

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This roof looks great, this wavy form. It's not just a fancy design.

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It's a fancy, clever design.

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With one big open space to fill, Riverside couldn't be laid out

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in rooms of cars or boats or bikes, like the Old Museum of Transport.

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So here the objects are organised by stories instead.

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What we've got here is a reconstructed Glasgow street.

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This will be a display of bicycles.

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There will be 3,000 objects in this museum

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but it's fair to say, more this size than...!

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What will be framed in that window is the Glenlee Tall Ship.

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What's the point of being down on the Clyde if you can't see it?

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I'll arm wave a lot if you like.

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There will be touch screens

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and down there's the South African locomotive.

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Ship models, audio-visual, as you say, or videos.

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We've got a bit of work to do on the handrails.

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We can flood this space.

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It's been designed so we can have radio-controlled model boats.

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Glasgow isn't cold and wet and horrible all the time. Honestly!

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I've been here long enough to know.

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A Glasgow crowd can be a tough audience to please

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but Riverside is for everyone.

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And it's been a real challenge to create a vibrant building

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for such demanding visitors.

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Transport museums have traditionally been about machines

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and cogs and wheels and how vehicles worked and were built.

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But the heart of Riverside are the stories behind the objects.

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Who were the people who used these trams and buses and trains

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as part of their everyday lives?

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A new exhibit, Subway War,

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gives today's visitors the chance to experience what it might have

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been like to ride the Glasgow underground during World War Two.

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The museum commissioned a one-shot,

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one-take film showing the entire journey during one wartime day.

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Visitors will be able to sit in one half of a real subway car

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and watch a 28-minute film projected to recreate

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the other half of the carriage.

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It required 60 people to perform in the film

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and Riverside went straight to some of its visitors for help.

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I got an email

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and I just happened to be looking at a photograph of my gran,

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who had passed away,

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and a message popped up...

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"Would you like to get a part in the museum film?"

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I thought, I'll phone them up and find out.

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And of course, Susie turned round and said, "Oh, it's the subway."

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I'm looking at my gran and I thought, "My gran worked on the subway for 33 years."

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I couldn't believe it. It's eerie.

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So far, I've done...

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I've lost count.

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I'm finding out although my character says inspector, an inspector wouldn't be wearing this.

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I'm really a conductor, but I don't want to be demoted so I'll say I'm still the inspector.

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'When we get on the subway,'

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the railway worker, Gary,

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who's coughing unsociably

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as he fumbles for his cigarettes,

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and I'm very disapproving.

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Even the museum's staff are getting in on the act.

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We've got extras that didn't turn up or we couldn't fill roles,

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we filled the gaps and it just happily happened to be

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that it came with a dashing uniform as well!

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As a visitor, you can just get on and off.

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You could sit for the 28 minutes, hear the whole play effectively

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or you can just sit for a couple of minutes

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and then get off and come back later on

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and it's just overheard conversations.

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It's been really, really good actually just to...

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you know, local people being involved

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in what's to be stuff for the next generation, I suppose, as well.

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For the boys to be part of it, because they're so small, is great.

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Many of the children in the subway film are also part of the museum's research panels.

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Our junior panel is two primary schools that we work with,

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Hyndland primary school

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and St Constantine's over in Govan.

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They've have been working with us since 2005

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and their role is to help and advise and to give us information.

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We take ideas to them and we test ideas with them,

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they do evaluation for us...

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all the things that we were then planning to put in Riverside.

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But by using the kids, they're giving us feedback from one of our audiences, which is schools.

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Five, four, three, two, one...

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and lights.

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Years of asking school children and community groups what they want

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has been a crucial part

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of the new approach to displaying the collection.

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For the curators, it's been vital for connecting with their visitors.

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We've got five key audiences for Riverside, which include teenagers

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but also our schools, families,

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which are a massive section of our current audience,

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sensory-impaired and under-fives,

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and every single display is tailored to one of those five audiences.

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We've worked with teenagers

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to try and find ways to make the displays relevant to them

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and to find out what they would be interested to come and see.

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Cos you'll come to a museum if there's something for you

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and if you feel you've got a place in it.

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Tram Dancing is a film about the teenagers of the 1950s

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travelling to the dancing.

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It cleverly mixes archive film with brand new reconstruction.

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From Charing Cross,

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you've got the Locarno and the West End and the Astoria.

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You've got the Albert Ballroom, the Berkeley, the St Andrew's Halls.

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Everyone went...chose the dance hall for a different reason.

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Riverside has used dozens of digital interpretations like this

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and interactive screens around the museum will show everything from close-up details of objects

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to games where you can race clipper ships.

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There are even screens where visitors will be able to tell the museum

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exactly what they think of it.

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One radical new display, is bound to get people talking.

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There is more of the adored car collection on show than ever before,

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but the vertical layout posed its own challenges.

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Museum technician Andy Howe is using the one-of-a-kind, purpose-built forklift

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to move the precious cargo almost 25 feet in the air

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onto what is known as a wall of cars.

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The conservation team have had every car out and had it weighed,

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they've found the centre of gravity of each car

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so they know which one can go at which level.

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You cannot put some of the older cars up there,

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it would have to be really careful about which ones go.

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So they were all tried and tested to see which would go,

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so that's what you're seeing.

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So it's not just down to, "Let's have a nice pretty design,

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"it's far, far more than that."

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Well, this is his second. and that's his first from that height.

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So...I think he was a bit concerned

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there was a camera pointing at him.

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But he did OK. He did. He did great.

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It's an Arrol-Johnston. 1922, it says here.

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So...please don't drop it!

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-Any idea how heavy these are?

-About one ton.

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About a ton.

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So yeah, it's a good machine. It's built for this purpose.

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Especially designed for it, so it's good.

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Yesterday was the first day so it was a bit...

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I think kids will like it but...it's a new thing.

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Whether people won't enjoy not being able to look inside the cars...

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It's a new display so I don't know how the public will react at all.

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Anyone passing by the site of Riverside over the last years

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has seen the spectacular building rise from the ground.

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But it's been a long road travelled since Glasgow City Council

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decided to create a new home for its transport collection.

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They got more than 140 responses to the request for designs

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and whittled those down to an invited shortlist including

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some of the world's most renowned architects.

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Eventually, the design from award-winning Iraqi architect

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Zaha Hadid's practice was selected.

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The practice has a significant track record

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of spectacular buildings around the world.

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And for their first major UK building

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they took their inspiration from the city and the location itself.

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There's a meeting of two rivers and the idea that...

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of course there's a memory of the site to do with the shipyards,

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and...like the undulating roof there.

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We worked with this idea of landscape and topography

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so the idea of the two things, like a third river where the shed

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is literally bending or melting on the shores of these two rivers.

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There was a history for architecture in the city

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with the Mackintosh School and all these very beautiful designs

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which are very highly refined

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and had such an influence on the Continent at the time.

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So I think it's very exciting.

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One of the reasons we selected Zaha's was

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a softer more organic form and quite dynamic.

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It's not an overtly masculine building.

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Our visitors, contrary to what people might expect,

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the gender balance is pretty much 50/50.

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I think a lot of museums of technology or transport

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would tend to fetishise the technological

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and some other architects on our list may have indulged in that.

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Such a significant building requires many architects.

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Jim Heverin was project director.

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We weren't selected just because

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we're Zaha Hadid architects

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and somehow that's a perceived bling that would bring

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the Guggenheim effect to Glasgow.

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It's the fact we came up with the proposal that they found answered their brief.

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You present it, you win, and then you have to make it work

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and that's what you do for the next six years.

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Welcome, ladies and gentlemen,

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the Lord Provost is just about to cut the first sod

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of what will be Glasgow's fantastic new Riverside Museum.

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Lord Provost.

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With a design in place, ground was broken on the site in autumn 2007 and building began.

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It was just the beginning of almost four years of hard work

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for project manager Paul Jaffray and his team.

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It's like any project, you usually walk into a green field

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with maybe half a dozen plans that are quite sketchy

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and you start forming plans in your head right away.

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But sometimes it is quite daunting, I mean, you've seen the shape of this.

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An intake of breath and you think, "Oh, we have a challenge here."

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We started here in September 2007

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and there was an advanced package which was ground clearance,

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with the main building starting in March 2008.

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We pushed the materials to the boundary,

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something that's not usual for a building.

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We know how it goes together but here has been completely different.

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I think working with the design team to realise their vision

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has been quite an experience.

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One of the nice architectural features about this external glazed screen

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is that when you walk straight towards it,

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the steel members look nice and slim.

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But in fact, they are quite a large section of the steelwork,

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but the way they've been orientated by Zaha takes away the mass of steelwork.

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That steelwork is actually holding up the end of that roof.

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The remarkable roof is one of the most striking features of the whole building.

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Covered in tens of thousands

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of individually hand-crafted zinc panels,

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it's a level of detail that few people will ever get to see up close.

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Basically we've got five individual roofs here.

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They're connected by... There's four valley gutters running between them.

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Those are a couple of hundred metres long each,

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so we've got 800 metres of gutters running through here.

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All the zinc panels we've got here, we've got 24,000 panels in total, all individually hand-made

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in our workshop that we had set up down at the bottom.

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Each zinc panel was set out individually.

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Four corners were set out by engineer, every seam line straight from the architect's model.

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The architect was very demanding as well,

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but it was good that it ended up being best for everyone

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that he was, and we ended up with a fantastic building.

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With just a few months to go before Riverside opens,

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the building work is nearing completion.

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It's now over to Glasgow City Council to start filling the spectacular space.

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How does the man in charge feel the museum is shaping up?

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I'm constantly gobsmacked by it when I walk in and look around.

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I just think it's amazing.

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Just couldn't be happier. The happiest museum manager in Britain, if not the world.

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Now that things are moving on with the installation of the objects,

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it's the turn of some of the smaller exhibits to move to their new homes.

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One of the things with collections of transport objects,

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they have to be in the museum, they're largely static,

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so we wanted to get a bit of movement into some of the displays

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and the ship conveyor is one of those that allows

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ship models to pass and move along.

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Symbolically, they're moving down to the Clyde

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and you can see them from in the main hall of the exhibition,

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looking up, and you'll see them silhouetted and travelling down towards the Clyde.

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Even Riverside, with its huge open exhibition space,

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isn't big enough to hold a full-size ship.

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But just outside, on the River Clyde itself,

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will be the tall ship Glenlee.

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After 12 years' berth at Yorkhill Quay,

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the only Clyde-built sailing ship afloat in the UK today,

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will take pride of place on the water.

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The 245ft-long vessel will be run by the Clyde Maritime Trust,

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and lets visitors go from looking at models

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to climbing aboard the real thing.

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All I could have done differently is not be there.

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I remember reaching for the brake lever,

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the next thing I knew, I was just lying on the floor.

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Transport museums usually celebrate the craft and design of vehicles

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and rarely address how dangerous they can be.

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Riverside uses a very sophisticated installation

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to tell what happened to one motorcyclist.

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This is a story about a crashed motorcycle.

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The six screens looking around it,

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they're each looking in on the bike itself, the actual object.

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Other museums have featured that but what they've not done

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is actually featured the story and spoken to the people who were involved in it.

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Just in terms of a piece of research,

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this was incredibly difficult and ambitious for us to pull off.

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It was a very complex shoot for our film company,

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we wanted to set it in the first-person

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so that we see through each individual protagonist's eyes.

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Being able to get them talking personally about a single accident

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and seeing that and getting the personal details of that

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meant that we were able to make a much more engaging story.

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Perhaps you look at some of the other objects in the museum,

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our cars and motorbikes, perhaps,

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with a new perspective after you see this display.

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No transport museum in Glasgow could be complete without showcasing

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the city's massive heritage of locomotive building.

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And all the old favourites are in Riverside.

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At the start of the project, we were looking at

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what we had in the collection, what stories we wanted to tell,

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and it became obvious that one of the big things about Glasgow

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is the number of locomotives that they exported around the world.

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So we started to look at, could we get a locomotive back,

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one that was built in Glasgow.

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It's been under wraps for months now,

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and today the covers are finally coming off the star exhibit -

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the massive South African locomotive 3007.

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But it's had a long journey back to the city where it was built almost 70 years ago.

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It's taken us nearly the whole project. It was complicated.

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And eventually, we found a locomotive in Bloemfontein in the scrap yard,

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and then we started the whole process of bringing it back.

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And it just always amused me

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because Glasgow had this huge reputation and experience

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of transporting locomotives around the world

0:21:380:21:41

and we had to bring one back, and it took a huge number of people a huge amount of time.

0:21:410:21:46

Once home, it was displayed in the city centre.

0:21:460:21:49

When it came into George Square it just looked amazing,

0:21:490:21:53

but then it needed a huge amount of conservation work done to it.

0:21:530:21:57

# You and I look good together... #

0:22:010:22:06

If you come in through the south doors and walk in,

0:22:060:22:10

one of the first things you're going to see is this massive locomotive.

0:22:100:22:15

Jet black, with all the piping on it. It's absolutely stunning.

0:22:150:22:19

It's getting close to opening day,

0:22:270:22:30

and everyone is working around the clock to get things ready for the public.

0:22:300:22:34

It's a really big day because it's the first time

0:22:350:22:38

we get to really gauge people's reaction to the whole building.

0:22:380:22:43

It will be nice to see how people move round the space and how they react to it.

0:22:460:22:51

It'll be really exciting.

0:22:510:22:53

Can't wait to not wear a high-vis jacket!

0:22:560:22:59

A highlight of the old museum was a recreated Glasgow street,

0:23:050:23:08

and on Riverside, they've gone bigger and better by including

0:23:080:23:12

a number of shops and businesses which, for the first time, the public will be able to get into.

0:23:120:23:17

One of these is the Cafe Rendezvous, a 1920s Italian cafe

0:23:210:23:26

from Glasgow's East End,

0:23:260:23:28

complete with some of its original interior.

0:23:280:23:30

God! It's fabulous!

0:23:340:23:35

For two very special visitors,

0:23:350:23:38

this sneak preview of the new museum is an overwhelming experience.

0:23:380:23:42

Alma and Giacomo donated the interior of their grandfather's cafe to Riverside,

0:23:420:23:47

which had lain in storage for 26 years since the cafe closed.

0:23:470:23:51

I'm just too emotional! Sorry.

0:23:540:23:57

It was up and running in 1920s.

0:23:570:24:00

We're not sure of an exact date, round about 1920s, 1922.

0:24:000:24:05

But my grandfather came over here.

0:24:050:24:08

The family made their own ice-cream and it was, as far as I'm concerned,

0:24:080:24:12

it was the best ice-cream in the west of Scotland.

0:24:120:24:15

And we had queues coming out every weekend.

0:24:150:24:20

They would actually bring in their own tubs. "Can you fill that up?"

0:24:200:24:24

And, I mean, masses and masses of ice-cream in this tub.

0:24:240:24:28

I'm sure there's lots of people who would be able to tell you their own stories about it.

0:24:280:24:32

SHE GASPS

0:24:380:24:39

Oh, my God!

0:24:400:24:42

Oh, my God!

0:24:430:24:44

It's not everyone who can revisit such precious family memories

0:24:440:24:48

and the brother and sister are the last generation

0:24:480:24:51

who can remember the cafe as it was.

0:24:510:24:54

Want to? Come on, yeah.

0:24:540:24:57

SHE SNIFFS

0:24:580:25:00

Ah, look at that.

0:25:000:25:02

SHE GASPS

0:25:060:25:08

Absolutely FABULOUS.

0:25:180:25:20

I wish my mum was here to see this.

0:25:210:25:23

This is brilliant. It brings back so many memories.

0:25:250:25:28

I can remember the people sitting here, chatting away...

0:25:290:25:33

..quite the thing.

0:25:340:25:35

All the winters...

0:25:360:25:38

..sharing an ice drink.

0:25:390:25:41

-Oh, it's brilliant.

-You got a fazzoletto there?

-Yeah.

0:25:430:25:46

I was there the day they took it all out.

0:25:460:25:49

We sat in the seats and everything.

0:25:490:25:51

-Played in between these chairs in the morning.

-Yeah.

0:25:510:25:54

The first thing you'd see when you walked into the shop is,

0:25:540:25:57

you'd see my mum behind the counter.

0:25:570:25:59

We used to sit behind that counter on top of a milk crate,

0:25:590:26:02

behind the counter, so I could pick away at the sweets.

0:26:020:26:07

If my nonno was here, he'd be the proudest man on this earth.

0:26:070:26:10

And the fact that it's in this new museum down by the riverside,

0:26:100:26:16

who would've thought?

0:26:160:26:18

It's not one single person does anything like this, basically.

0:26:200:26:24

It's not a painting, it's not one single hand, it's many hands.

0:26:240:26:27

People sometimes are quite efficient, they're a little bit enthusiastic

0:26:270:26:34

but on this one, a lot of them, because they come from Glasgow and around the area,

0:26:340:26:39

they understand that for them, this is something they'll be taking their children to.

0:26:390:26:44

And that for their lifetime, this is something

0:26:440:26:46

they'll be looking back on that was a unique opportunity and they made the most of it.

0:26:460:26:51

Nervous? It's all right.

0:27:000:27:04

I like the streets, it makes you feel like you're back in time.

0:27:130:27:16

They've made great use of the space with the cars on the wall.

0:27:200:27:24

It looks amazing.

0:27:250:27:27

It's all yours, over to you now. Have a ball. Enjoy it. Thank you.

0:27:300:27:34

Someone said earlier it looks like a kind of a traffic-jam downstairs. It does!

0:27:430:27:47

I'm tempted to come in one day and go like that, kind of...

0:27:560:28:00

and see if anyone starts poking me, saying, "That's dead real-looking."

0:28:000:28:03

I've loved every minute of it, genuinely.

0:28:080:28:11

Been told off for touching things, we only did that.

0:28:110:28:15

Can we get a receipt?

0:28:160:28:18

The museum is brilliant. Super.

0:28:340:28:38

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:440:28:47

Email [email protected]

0:28:470:28:50

ArtWorks Scotland marks the opening of Glasgow's new Riverside Museum by going behind the scenes to tell the story of its design, construction and fitting out.

The 74 million pound project replaces the city's much-loved Museum of Transport and more than doubles the number of objects on display to 3,000. The spectacular building was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and the undulating steel and zinc roof proved an engineering challenge. Almost as tricky was bringing a 179 ton steam locomotive back from South Africa to take pride of place on the banks of the Clyde.

The programme also includes the moving stories of the subway carriage, the wall of 40 cars and Cafe Rendezvous, a carefully restored 1930s Italian cafe.


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