Listen to Gallery of Modern Art:
Glasgow style: a masterpiece of reinvention
Standing in the middle of Royal Exchange Square it’s hard to imagine a time when this part of Glasgow was surrounded by green fields. But that’s how it was in 1778 when Tobacco Lord William Cunninghame decided to build his neoclassical ‘Roman’ villa here.
Neil Baxter, Secretary and Treasurer at The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, introduces a building and city setting which changed many times over two hundred years.
From 18th century villa to 19th century Royal Exchange to 20th century telephone exchange – the ‘temple of commerce’ finally evolved into the Gallery of Modern Art in 1996, but the reception area still contains the evidence of the original tobacco mansion.
Leading us inside, Neil Baxter pauses to note the grand old Duke of Wellington outside the entrance, most likely wearing his customary traffic cone: Glasgow grandeur with humour.