By David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council

AT the opening of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens in 1898, the former Prime Minister Lord Rosebery shared his vision for the building, remarking that it would be “a palace around which the surrounding people may place their affections,” and “a home on which their memory may rest.”

Today, we are asking Glasgow City Council to approve plans to undertake public consultation to help shape the future of this cultural icon. For 120 years the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens has been a place of shared heritage. We want to ensure that the memories and stories it houses are preserved. We are also committed to securing a long-term, sustainable future. The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens is for the people and also of the people. It is essential that Glasgow’s citizens are able to shape its future, just as they have its history.

If approved, the council will commit £750,000 to enable a thorough public consultation strategy to be developed. The voices of our citizens will be at the heart of the public participation plan. The discussion will be inclusive and accessible, to reach as many people as possible and make sure that the widest range of views are heard. A Sounding Board will play a key role in the consultation process, taking an empowering and collaborative approach by seeking guidance from a broad range of community groups.

While the proposed consultation is expected to commence in January 2020, there are some essential elements of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens that will remain regardless of the future shape it takes. The glasshouse frame of the winter gardens will be repaired and retained. The displays in the museum which tell the rich social history of Glasgow will be refreshed and improved, but kept in spirit. And, importantly for our city, entry to the museum and surrounding public areas will continue to be free of charge.

When it opened, the aim of the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens was to improve the health and wellbeing of Glasgow’s poorest citizens. It is a model which is still frequently adopted by city planners today and the role of the museums as a catalyst for urban renewal can be seen in cities around the world. Over a century later, the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens is a much-loved part of the city’s landscape. It is true when we say People Make Glasgow and it is our people, and the stories shared over generations that make the People’s Palace such a treasured part of our culture and community.

At the time when the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens were built, Glasgow was recognised as a world leader in municipal endeavour. The city had adopted a revolutionary new approach to governance in order to keep its citizens safe, healthy and productive. Today the need for this kind of democratic and participatory governance is stronger than ever.

Just as Lord Rosebery had hoped more than a century ago, today the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens is held in great affection by Glasgow’s citizens. We know how much it means to the people of the city. It is therefore imperative that the future of a museum for the people should be decided by the people.

The museums and galleries of our city are for all of our citizens. Their doors are open to everyone. They are spaces for dialogues between cultures and places of peace and tolerance. They are buildings that house our unique stories and preserve shared memories. The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens is a monument to our past but also an evolving part of our future. Museums are most valuable to us when they are responsive to urban change and the dynamics of modern society, and the next chapter of this cultural icon is one that should be written collectively.

To find out more about the public consultation visit