Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow

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Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow
Formation 1802
Type Learned society
Purpose "[T]o aid the study, diffusion and advancement of the arts and sciences, with their applications, and the better understanding of public affairs."
Headquarters University of Strathclyde
Professor Jan McDonald
Main organ

The Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow is a learned society established in 1802 "for the improvement of the Arts and Sciences" in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. It runs a programme of lectures, starting its 216th Series in October 2017. The Society formerly owned a building on Bath Street, but since 1994 has been accommodated within the University of Strathclyde.


The Society was founded in 1802 as the Glasgow Philosophical Society by a meeting of sixty people in the former Assembly Rooms, and work began establishing a library collection.[1] The Society was housed in various short-term accommodation until 1831, when a room was made available in the Andersonian University (now the University of Strathclyde). The Society subsequently moved to the Corporation Galleries on Sauchiehall Street in 1868, and in 1880, in conjunction with the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, built new premises on Bath Street.[1]

The Society was made a Royal Society in 1901,[2] shortly before its centenary, by Edward VII while Archibald Campbell, 1st Baron Blythswood was President. In 1961, the Society's building was sold and the library, which by that time contained over five thousand volumes, dispersed. The Society began renting lecture halls at the University of Strathclyde.[1] The archives of the Society are now maintained by the Archives of the University of Glasgow.


The Society runs a programme of lectures through the year, including the Kelvin and Graham Lectures, commemorating physicist Lord Kelvin and chemist Thomas Graham respectively, and for which medals are awarded.[1][3] Lord Kelvin was president of the Society and Thomas Graham Vice-President.

The Arts Medal was replaced in 2011 by the Minerva Medal. “Arts” was thought to be restrictive and it was decided that, as Minerva was goddess not only of wisdom but also of music, poetry, medicine, commerce, weaving, crafts and magic, her broad portfolio covers both Arts and Humanities. The image of Minerva appearing on the medal is taken from the image carved on the President’s chair which is on permanent loan to the University of Strathclyde.

Notable former presidents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "About the Royal Philosophical Society". Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  2. ^ "Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow". Glasgow University Library. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Current session". 

External links[edit]