It’s called the People’s Palace for a reason. With only a few days left to visit the attraction before it closes for three years, bosses behind its restoration say local input will be crucial in bringing it into the 21st century.

The People’s Palace in Glasgow Green will close its doors for the final time on Sunday, April 14, ahead of a major £36million investment that is set to reimagine and restore the museum and glasshouse by 2027.

On a grey rainy day in Glasgow, the building is packed with locals and tourists taking in the rich history the city has to offer before the shutters come down. From Sir Billy Connolly’s iconic banana boots and Rab C Nesbit’s string vest to a recreation of a single end flat, the collection inside the People’s Palace marks and commemorates many pivotal moments in Scotland’s social history.

In recent years the venue has been subject to temporary closure and while the People's Palace reopened, the Winter Gardens remained closed.

The Herald: A young visitor in front of Sir Billy Connolly's Banana Boots. Picture: Craig Foy / SNS GroupA young visitor in front of Sir Billy Connolly's Banana Boots. Picture: Craig Foy / SNS Group (Image: SNS)

After disappointment at missing out on national government Levelling Up investment in 2023, funding was later secured by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the first phase in the revamp will commence shortly.

The People’s Palace opened its doors in 1898, meaning by the time it re-opens the 130th year anniversary will be fast approaching. It was intended as a resource for the working people of the city. Surrounding districts had high levels of poverty at the time and the idea was to enable communities to easily access the amenities the new building provided, such as a reading room, gallery and spaces for performances.

Glasgow Life, the charity responsible for the city’s sport and culture, will oversee the three-year restoration, and bosses say the local input can’t be understated.

Bailie Annette Christie, chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Within the first sixteen months of its closure, we’re looking to do an extensive engagement and consultation process not only with the local people and those who are closest to the palace, but all Glaswegians and anyone who would have an interest in visiting our museums.

“But it is crucial that the local people particularly have a voice in telling that story. This ensures the east end will be firmly put on the tourist map.

“Next year is such an important year for Glasgow as it celebrates its 850th anniversary. There will be so many events in the city and surrounding areas. We want to make the story of the People’s Palace part of that, so during our consultations, there will be pop up events throughout the city allowing everyone to have their say.

“Not only will we be bringing the building into the 21st century, but we’ll be updating the collection by engaging with people and finding out what they want to see and what is missing right now.

“There’s a great number of people that have helped build this city whose stories haven’t yet been told.”


The Herald: Glasgow Life was behind the 2022 re-opening of the nearby Burrell collection, and after it was awarded UK Museum of the Year in 2023, the hope is that the People’s Palace will have a similarly bright future.

Duncan Dornan, head of museums and Collections for Glasgow Life, says the restoration will help transform the People’s Palace into a modern attraction that serves both locals and tourists alike.

He said: “The palace is a special place in the heart of Glaswegians. What we’re aiming to do with the project is to breathe fresh life into it using the newest technology we have in relation to interpretation and building management so that it updates the story of Glasgow in a more engaging way.

“It’s a major investment. It involves a refurbishment of the fabric of the entire building and that will bring it up to modern standards for people visiting. It will also make it more sustainable and easier to manage.

“The palace when it emerges from this will really represent the aspirations of the city’s people. We know from the success of the Burrell collection that community engagement allows us to deliver a project that really meets people’s needs.”

Ms Annette Christie added: “We have taken a lot of learnings from the Burrell, and there’s a reason the Burrell was the UK Museum of the Year in 2023 and that’s because we have a very successful engagement process with the local community. More than 15,000 people from the Pollok area got involved in the discussions, and you can see how successful it has been since re-opening. That’s what we want to emulate here at People’s Palace and take it even further.

Staff from the People’s Palace will be moved to other museums across Glasgow while they wait for the work to be completed. Gallery Assistant Erin Stewart said the interest that’s been shown in recent months by the public has been great to see with visitors getting a last glimpse of its current form.

The Herald: People's Palace Gallery Assistant Erin Stewart (Right) alongside Duncan Dornan and Bailie Annette Christie (centre) and other staff members.People's Palace Gallery Assistant Erin Stewart (Right) alongside Duncan Dornan and Bailie Annette Christie (centre) and other staff members. (Image: SNS)She said: “Everyone is very excited about what’s to come. The visitor numbers have been incredibly busy in the run up to our closure.

“It’s bittersweet to be leaving the People’s Palace, even if it is only temporary. Everyone is sad that we’re closing our doors, but it’s so important to see this place revitalised and re-imagined and we all can’t wait to see what it does for the local communities.”

The People’s Palace Glasgow will close at 5pm on Sunday, April 14.