GLASGOW’S history has been reduced to a music hall joke with the "looting" of the People’s Palace museum, according to one of its former curators.

Dr Elspeth King says the strength of the museum, which is supposed to tell the story of the city and its people, lay in in its significant collection, but claims items are now dispersed across other city venues and lack in their interpretation of their value to the city.

Her comments come at a time when Glasgow Life, the charitable trust which runs the city’s culture and leisure, is holding talks with representatives from nations to return looted artefacts. A delegation from Nigeria recently visited the city to discuss the return of looted Benin bronzes.

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However, Mrs King says it could equally apply to the People’s Place as she claims items in its collection have been looted across the city.

A public consultation is under way about the future of the People’s Palace and adjacent Winter Gardens as a bid is being prepared for the next phase of the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

The People's Palace is dedicated to the history of Glasgow, but it has been described as a The People's Palace refurbishment is among seven city bids for the UK Government's Levelling Up fund

The People's Palace and Winter Gardens refurbishment is among seven city bids being put forward before the July 6 deadline.

Mrs King, of the Friends of People’s Palace, Winter Gardens and Glasgow Green, said: “It would be timely to recognise and amend the looting which has taken place of a wide range of objects and collections from the museum. The museum is as destroyed and as stripped bare as the winter gardens were revealed to be last November.

“The current collection, which I don’t think has been added to since 1998, leaves Glasgow’s history reduced to a music hall joke.”

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She described the current collection as "mundane and a supercilious level."

"A museum should stimulate debate with its interpretation that visitors can respond to. There has to be a conversation between the visitor and the museum - that's how they work," Mrs King added. "The People's Palace needs to be a museum that reflects all of Glasgow's history and not just a select period of time."

The People's Palace is dedicated to the history of Glasgow, but it has been described as a Glasgow's story is told through the collection at the People's Palace

The museum opened on January 22, 1898 by the 5th Earl of Rosebery who described it as: "A palace of pleasure and imagination around which the people may place their affections and which may give them a home on which their memory may rest". He declared the building "Open to the people for ever and ever.”

It’s aim is to tell the story of Glasgow through its collections from 1750, however Mrs King questioned the timeframe arguing that Glasgow’s history in shaping a future Scotland and democracy lay in its Medieval history.

She added: “How can you start Glasgow's history at 1750 when its Medieval history is so important. If it hadn't been for the actions of Glasgow's Bishop Robert Wishart who took a stand against King Edward I and absolved Robert the Bruce over the killing of his rival John Comyn, Scotland wouldn't exist as it does today.

"And Glasgow was at the centre of democracy when the National Covenant was signed in 1638 opposing the proposed reforms of the Church of Scotland by King Charles I."

Mrs King, who was the museum's curator for 16 years from 1974, says the current display does little to feed the imagination or inspire and stimulate debate with its visitors.

She claimed a stained-glass collection, all of it designed and made in Glasgow, has not been seen for 30 years.

During her time, The Wardian Case, which was a miniature Winter Gardens, made by Andrew Brown, tinsmith and instrument maker to antiseptic surgery pioneer Lord Lister in the 1880s, was displayed in the entrance hall of the People’s Palace but she now believes it is in store along with many other items.

The People's Palace is dedicated to the history of Glasgow, but it has been described as a Dr Elspeth King, former curator of the People's Palace, is calling for its full restoration

She added: “Paintings by Alasdair Gray have been shown everywhere except the People’s Palace. The interior from the Rendezvous Café in Dennistoun and elements from the Calton Bar are now in the Riverside Museum, where countless items decorate the pawn shops and other displays. This theft of collections is a massive identity theft on a city scale, which in turn, diminishes Scotland."

Last month it was revealed the city's museums are to offer new interpretations of how items with links to the slave trade and empire came to be in their collections. However, Mrs King says it is something they had done at the People's Palace many years before in the People's Palace.

A spokesperson for Glasgow Life said: “The People’s Palace was the first custom-built museum by Glasgow Corporation, now Glasgow City Council. When the museum and winter gardens opened in 1898 the entire complex was called the People’s Palace and was described as ‘a palace of pleasure and imagination’ built to provide a museum and cultural facility for the working class in the east end of Glasgow. The museum was intended to inspire, entertain and educate."

They added that the current displays tell part of the story of Glasgow, through the experiences of the ordinary people who lived and worked in the city. The spokesperson said the displays provide an important and popular focus for the city’s identity and a place where Glaswegians can explore their own identities and place in the city.

"There are many stories to tell about the long and important history that the city and its people have played in Scotland, too many for one museum. The social history collection is so rich, it’s important that we make the most of that opportunity to present the stories of the city and its people in all Glasgow Life Museums," the spokesperson added.

"Over the next few years as we work on what the content of the new displays will include, we will engage with communities to hear their views on this. Since the last redisplay in the 1990s, interpretation methods have changed significantly, including the use of digital, which we plan to use to create an interesting and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

"The current phase of public and stakeholder engagement is drawing to a close and later in the summer we will report on the results of this. There’s still time to have your say though – the online survey is open until Monday 4 July and we really want to hear the views of as many people as possible. Feedback from all those who contribute to the consultation, including the Friends of the People’s Palace, Winter Gardens and Glasgow Green, will inform the future redisplay.”