Glasgow Museums’ special display spaces provide a unique opportunity for community groups to create their own exhibitions using the collections stored at Kelvin Hall.
Kelvin Hall has had a fascinating history and you can learn all about it at the Heritage Arcade, Discover the various lives of Kelvin Hall as you walk along the timeline; see a Magic Mirror from the well-loved Carnival and Circus and watch film footage from the Moving Image Archive.
Thanks to two of the Showpeople, Olivia Newsome and Duncan Smith, who were working with Glasgow Museums back in 2013, it was discovered what the origin of these mirrors is; the circus at Kelvin Hall! The discovery was made when it was mentioned that the Showpeople did not know the location of these well-known mirrors. This intrigued our Curator of Social History, who checked some mirrors in the museum collection which had very little information known about them. Duncan helped to confirm that the mirrors were in fact those that the Showpeople were speaking about!
Part of a set of six, these magic mirrors presented a moment of quiet with a bit of a giggle in the midst of roaring noise and bright lights. We have now learned a lot more about them from our work with Olivia and Duncan.
Together, Glasgow Museums and a team of Glasgow Showpeople worked together to put the Short/Stout mirror on display. It helps represent the wonderful memories of not only this attraction, but the circus and carnival as a whole. We gathered oral histories of visitors who remembered it as children and those that had worked in “the shows” as well as photos and film to put together into the display.
Showpeople Magic Mirrors, © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collections
Created by community members from across the city, this display sheds light on the experiences of those who moved and settled into Glasgow from China and Poland during the 20th Century, and from Scotland’s Highlands during the 19th & 18th Centuries.