Glasgow Science Centre

Coordinates: 55°51′31″N 4°17′38″W / 55.858542°N 4.293803°W / 55.858542; -4.293803
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Glasgow Science Centre
Glasgow Science Centre and Tower - - 555916.jpg
Glasgow Science Centre and Glasgow Tower, the largest structure in Scotland
LocationGlasgow, Scotland
Coordinates55°51′31″N 4°17′38″W / 55.858542°N 4.293803°W / 55.858542; -4.293803

Glasgow Science Centre is a visitor attraction located in the Clyde Waterfront Regeneration area on the south bank of the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Queen Elizabeth II opened Glasgow Science Centre on 5 July 2001. It is one of Scotland's most popular paid-for visitor attractions.[1] It is a purpose-built science centre composed of three principal buildings: Science Mall, Glasgow Tower and an IMAX cinema. It is a registered charity under Scottish law.[2]

The Scottish tourist board, VisitScotland, awarded Glasgow Science Centre a five star rating in the visitor attraction category.[3]

As well as its main location, Glasgow Science Centre also manages the visitor centre at Whitelee Wind Farm, which opened to the public in 2009.


View of the Glasgow Garden Festival site

Opened to the public in June 2001, Glasgow Science Centre is part of the ongoing redevelopment of Pacific Quay, an area which was once a cargo port known as Prince's Dock.[4][5][6] The redevelopment started with the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988. As with the other National Garden Festivals, the 100 acres (0.40 km2) Glasgow site was intended to be sold off for housing development, but due to a housing slump in 1987, the developers were unable to develop the land as they intended, and the majority of the site remained derelict for years. Parts were finally redeveloped for the Science Centre and also Pacific Quay, including new headquarters for BBC Scotland and Scottish Television, opened in 2007. The Clydesdale Bank Tower was dismantled and re-erected in Rhyl in North Wales, however the Glasgow Tower, built as part of Science Centre complex, stands on approximately the same spot.

The architects of the Glasgow Science Centre were Building Design Partnership, however the Glasgow Tower was originally designed by the architect Richard Horden with engineering design by Buro Happold.[7][8] It was built at a cost of around £75 million, including £10 million for the Glasgow Tower, with over £37 million coming from the Millennium Commission.[9][10]

Science Mall[edit]

Glasgow Science Centre from the west

The largest of the three main, titanium-clad buildings takes a crescent shape structure and houses a Science Mall. In architectural terms it represents the canted hull of a ship, a reference to the adjacent 'canting basin', where vessels were brought to have the marine growth removed from their hulls. Internally, there are three floors of over 250 science-learning exhibits. As is usual for science centres, the exhibits aim to encourage interaction, and can be used or played with as part of the informal learning experience the centre aims to deliver. The building was designed by BDP.

On Floor 1, amongst the many interactive exhibits that demonstrate scientific principles, visitors can access a Science Show Theatre and the Glasgow Science Centre Planetarium.[11][12] The planetarium contains a Zeiss optical-mechanical projector that projects images of the night sky onto a 15m diameter dome.[13][14] There is an area specifically aimed at young children, called The Big Explorer.

On Floor 2, visitors can explore opportunities in STEM careers in the My World of Work Live interactive exhibition space. There is also The Lab, primarily used as an educational workshop space.

Floor 3 was refurbished in 2012 and reopened to the public on 28 March 2013. It now houses an interactive exhibition about human health and wellbeing in the 21st century, called BodyWorks. Visitors are invited to consider their bodies, health and lifestyle from a new perspective through 115 interactive exhibits, research capsules and live laboratory experiences.[15]

The Ground Floor of the Science Mall contains the ticket desk, cafes, gift shop, and a cloakroom. There are a number of flexible room spaces on the Ground Floor that are used for a variety of educational and corporate purposes: an education space called The Egg; a lecture-theatre space called The Auditorium; and the Clyde Suite, a multi-purpose function space. Access to Glasgow Tower for the public is also via the Ground Floor.

Glasgow Tower[edit]

The Glasgow Tower was designed to be the tallest freely-rotating tower in the world. It missed its opening date in 2001 and was plagued by problems since then.[citation needed] and was closed from August 2010[16] until July 2014.[17]

IMAX Cinema[edit]

The IMAX cinema was the first IMAX cinema to be built in Scotland. The single auditorium seats 370 in front of a rectangular screen measuring 80 feet (24 m) by 60 feet (18 m) and has the capability to show 3D films as well as standard 2D films in IMAX format.[18] It opened to the public in October 2000, and premiered the first film, entitled "Dolphins", several months prior to the opening of the two other buildings.[19] On 6 September 2013, Cineworld took over running the cinema. On 12 May 2021, Cineworld confirmed they are no longer operating the IMAX at the Glasgow Science Centre and intend to surrender the lease.[20] Glasgow Science Centre announced the IMAX theatre would reopen on 5 May 2022.[21]

Funding issues[edit]

In June 2004, it was announced that about a fifth of the workforce were to be made redundant following the creation of a funding deal with the Scottish Executive.[22] In June 2008, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Nicol Stephen, stated that Glasgow Science Centre was facing a 40% cut in government funding.[23] Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented on this issue during Prime Minister's Questions saying, "It's unfortunate in Glasgow that as a result of the SNP, funding has been cut, and they will live to regret that".[24] Although funding for the Scottish Science Centres as a whole has actually increased, it is now being split between four centres using a formula based on visitor numbers, and Glasgow is the only centre to face a reduction in budget.[25] This led to the announcement in July 2008 that 28 full-time jobs were to be cut as a direct consequence of the cuts "in order to secure Glasgow Science Centre's future", according to the Chief Executive, Kirk Ramsay.[26]

In the media[edit]

Glasgow Science Centre is located in the Pacific Quay area, and as such, is surrounded by the media centres that form the Digital Media Quarter, a Scottish Enterprise development initiative,[27] With the opening of the new STV headquarters in June 2006 and the beginning of broadcast programming from BBC Pacific Quay in the summer of 2004, it can be expected that more programming will be filmed in the area.

In the CBeebies television programme Nina and the Neurons, the title character Nina is a neuroscientist who works at Glasgow Science Centre.[28] In reality, Nina is played by the actress Katrina Bryan who is not a staff member at Glasgow Science Centre.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Visitor numbers up at Scots attractions". BBC News. 1 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Glasgow Science Centre, Registered Charity no. SC030809". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
  3. ^ "Glasgow Science Centre on". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  4. ^ Glasgow Harbour 1932 (Burrell Collection Photo Library), The Glasgow Story
  5. ^ "Science on the Clyde". BBC News. 19 June 2001. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  6. ^ "Glasgow Architecture website on Pacific Quay". Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  7. ^ "Horden Cherry Lee Architects". Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  8. ^ "BDP Architects". Archived from the original on 25 May 2004. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  9. ^ "HMie Review of the Contribution of the Scottish Science Centres Network". Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  10. ^ "Millennium Commission Awards". Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  11. ^ "MERO Construction website on the Glasgow Science Centre". Archived from the original on 10 April 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  12. ^ "Glasgow Science Centre webpage on the Science Mall". Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  13. ^ "Zeiss Press release". Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  14. ^ "Zeiss installation list". Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  15. ^ "What is BodyWorks?". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  16. ^ "BBC News - Faulty tower: Glasgow's £10m white elephant". BBC Online. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  17. ^ "BBC News - Glasgow Science Centre tower reopens". BBC Online. 19 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  18. ^ "Big Movie Zone". Archived from the original on 4 June 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
  19. ^ "Millennium Commission News October 2000". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  20. ^ "IMAX cinema in Glasgow Science Centre announces it will not reopen amid complaints staff found out on social media". Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  21. ^ "Glasgow Science Centre on Twitter". Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  22. ^ "Redundancies at science centre". BBC News. 29 June 2004. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  23. ^ "Science centre '40% funding cut'". BBC News. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  24. ^ "Evening Times News Report". Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  25. ^ "SNP News Release". Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  26. ^ "Troubled science centre cuts jobs". BBC News. 3 July 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  27. ^ "Digital Media Quarter webpage". Retrieved 10 August 2009.
  28. ^ "CBeebies Nina and the Neurons webpage". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2008.

External links[edit]