OVER the decades, Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has staged many popular exhibitions, the latest being a major retrospective of the work of the photographer Linda McCartney, which will run until January 12 next year.

Back in August 1943, an exhibition was launched to highlight new uses for glass. Many of the female spectators were interested in what this paper described as a “spectacular all-glass outfit”, worn by Mrs Helen Monro Turner, wife of Professor W.E.S. Turner, head of the Department of Glass Technology at Sheffield University. The couple had recently married in Edinburgh, and Mrs Turner, formerly Helen Nairn Monro, a graphic artist and glass engraver, “appeared in the same pale blue spun-glass gown, hat, shoes and handbag as she had worn at her wedding”.

A large mercury arc rectifier (main image, far right) also attracted much interest, as did Spitfire windscreens, smashed but not pierced by German bullets, and tank windows, hand grenades and a glass radiator. Also on show were tiny bulbs to illuminate the controls of tanks, and huge electric globes for film studios and lighthouses. Glass frying pans, pots and oven dishes, and cylindrical glass seed-bed markers, caught the eye, too.

“The exhibits on view,” reported the Glasgow Herald, “show some of the latest uses of glass for constructional, industrial, technical and war purposes, with several specimens of glass silk fibres. Though many of the articles are of great industrial and domestic interest, the show-piece is likely to be a spun-glass parasol [above], hand-painted in pink and green”.

Sir James French, a well-known figure in the industry, spoke at the opening of the exhibition and predicted a revival of the glass industry, with many new and novel applications.

He said it was his hope that the exhibition would be a stimulus and encouragement to the citizens of Glasgow in bringing back an industry which it had at one time possessed on a very large scale.

There was no reason, he added, why “there should not be restored to this centre of heavy industry such a beautiful counter-balancing production”. The future of glass was enormous despite the big advance that synthetics had been making in the hope of ousting it.

There was, he insisted, plenty of room for both.

Read more: Herald Diary

Popular exhibitions at Kelvingrove in more recent times have ranged across subjects as diverse as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, art from the Great War frontline, Doctor Who, Kylie Minogue, Jack Vettriano, the Glasgow Boys and, earlier this year, Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure, featuring a 70ft replica cast of the Diplodocus carnegii dinosaur species.

Others have included Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing; Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics; Gifts for the Gods: Animal Mummies Revealed; Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty and A Century of Style: Costume and Colour 1800-1899.