IT IS the people’s museum, a much-loved place that tells the story of how Glaswegians have lived, worked and played since the 1750s.

The People’s Palace has been a fixture of Glasgow Green for more than 126 years, and it will close on April 14 for a £35.9m refurbishment.

Fiona Hayes, curator of social history with Glasgow Life Museums, and assistant manager Tariq Iqbal are urging people to make the most of their ‘last chance to see’ some of the most fascinating exhibits before it shuts for three years.

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Fiona said: “The People’s Palace is rightly a much-loved museum, home to displays of historical artefacts, photographs, paintings, prints and film.

“It’s a wonderful place to spend some time and it’s wonderful news the museum and glasshouse will be restored to allow future generations to continue to explore Glasgow’s unique social history.”

Tariq said: “It’s a pleasure to manage the People’s Palace.

“Every day I watch local people and visitors to Glasgow smile as they reminisce about times gone by and share family stories with the next generation.

“I’d encourage everyone to come and see us one last time before we close on 14 April. We are excited to continue working with the local community to reimagine the whole place, making sure more Glaswegian heritage is on display and creating a building that’s accessible for everyone.”

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Here are eight great items you should definitely check out before the doors close on April 14.


Sir Billy Connolly’s banana boots

When the museum re-opened in 1998 after refurbishment, one of the most frequently asked questions was ‘are the banana boots still on show’?

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These magnificent boots were designed and made by Glasgow pop artist Edmund Smith in 1975.

After making the first one, Smith remarked that the second wouldn’t be identical, ‘as bananas never are’, and gave it the Fyffes label.

The boots made their first appearance on stage at the Music Hall, Aberdeen, in August 1975.  They became Billy Connolly’s trademark at the time, and inspired the title of his documentary Big Banana Feet.

Glasgow Fair by John Knox

This remarkable painting, which captures the city’s Fair celebrations on Glasgow Green is packed full of life, with Fair booths, sideshows, circuses and street sellers.

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It contains more than 1000 figures, from well-to-do ladies with parasols to soldiers and pickpockets.

Single End display

Technically not one item, but several together creating a typical one-room tenement dwelling which many Glaswegians will recall living in during the early decades of the 20th century.

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The recess bed and tin bath are bound to stir a few memories…


Suffragette Maggie Moffat’s Holloway prison badge

This small silver pin badge, sometimes referred to as a Holloway Brooch, was presented to women who had been imprisoned for their suffrage activity.

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This one was given to Glasgow actor and suffragette Maggie Moffat, who was jailed in 1907 after taking part in a demonstration at the House of Commons. 

She was one of the first Scotswomen to be imprisoned. The badge was designed by Sylvia Pankhurst and references the portcullis symbol of Parliament with the convict arrow symbol in the WSPU colours of purple, white and green.


John Glassford and his Family, c 1767-69, by Archibald McLauchlan

This painting of tobacco lord John Glassford and his family in their Glasgow mansion is full of references to his vast wealth, made from his plantations built on slave labour.

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It was rumoured that an enslaved boy missing from the picture had been painted over, but this theory was disproved during conservation work in 2007.

In an interview with our sister newspaper The Herald, Miles Greenwood, curator of legacies of slavery and empire said: "It was more that, over time, the painting faded, and dirt collected on it. After cleaning, this was revealed.

"We know quite a lot about John Glassford, who is centre stage of this painting, but one of the tragedies of the slave trade is we don't know anything about this particular enslaved boy and we know so little about similar boys who would have lived in aristocratic households.”


Glasgow 1955 Photographic Survey

This collection of more than 500 images is a fascinating glimpse into a Glasgow of a different era.

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In 1955, Glasgow camera clubs, led by Partick, carried out a photographic survey of the city, recording everyday scenes of people and places and in the process created an astonishing record.  

It includes photographs of the Clyde as a busy waterway, street scenes, people at leisure and work and children at play. This photo is The Art Galleries from Partick Bridge by JM McCorquodale, West of Scotland Club.

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Rikki Fulton’s BAFTA 1993

The Scottish BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award that was presented to Rikki Fulton in 1993 is another popular exhibit.

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The Glasgow born actor, writer and comedian is probably best remembered for his Scotch and Wry TV series, once essential Hogmanay viewing, or as one half of Francie and Josie with Jack Milroy.

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Jimmy Reid: Seventy Five Years by Barry Atherton assisted by Linda Atherton, 2007

This huge portrait was unveiled in the People’s Palace on July 5, 2007 a few days before the trades union activist's 75th birthday.

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It has Jimmy surrounded by images from his life, including the famous Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in, his career, his family and references to the people and ideals which influenced him.