Scotland’s Moving Image Archive is all set for move to Kelvin Hall


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Kelvin Hall – the front façade remains unaltered.

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful ordeals we have to endure Even if you have the most efficient removal men lined up and assistance with packing from family and friends rallying round – it still takes its toll.So for many, the prospect of moving a whole film archive including 15 steenbecks 6 miles down the road whilst still keeping the archive up and running would be an almost insurmountable task. But not for Ruth Washbrook and her team at the ‘National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive’ – it’s smiles all round as the great move is about to start – a culmination of hard work and dedication which has tested their skills and patience over the last few years but now – their reward is in sight – a state of the art facility, as part of the refurbishment of Glasgow’s iconic Kelvin Hall.

Ruth Washbrook, Collections Manager, explains -“Hillington for the archive was meant to be a stop gap – but lasted 10 years! Since I became Archive Manager 5 years ago, I have lived and breathed this project and the move to Kelvin Hall is now so exciting – it’s so good to see it all taking shape”

Planning the move and new archive is Ruth’s baby,  she’s been at the forefront of planning since the year dot and the smiles reflect the fact that after months of meetings and meticulous planning, it’s now all coming together and the new home for the archive is in sight.

And what a place! – visiting Glasgow in late April, FAUK caught up with Ruth who gave us a special tour of the new exterior and she proudly pointed out the progress of the development of the new facility which is being opened in September as part of the £35 million refurbishment of Glasgow’s iconic Kelvin Hall neighbouring Kelvingrove Museum and the University of Glasgow.

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The refurbishment project is a unique collaboration between Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, the University of Glasgow and the National Library of Scotland including the Moving Image Archive. The reinvention of Glasgow’s historic exhibition hall as a cultural, academic and sporting complex of international significance will drive forward the city’s capacity for learning and innovation and contribute to its cultural, social and economic regeneration.

The first phase of the redevelopment will open this summer bringing 50% of the building back into use.


Ruth points out the new entrance hall

The main façade of the building will remain unchanged with the entrance planned in Bunhouse Road facing the River Kelvin. Here an imposing entrance hall and corridor has been developed with full length windows and copper framing along the Bunhouse façade.

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Gym with a view!

Halfway along are the equally imposing windows of the new gym of the ‘Glasgow Club’ a health and fitness centre, the largest in Scotland at over 1,000 sq m with plans to host 100 weekly fitness classes. The centre will also incorporate an 8 court multi purpose sports hall, 4 courts gymnastics hall and 3 group fitness studios.

Kelvin Hall will also be home to a Collections Centre for all key partners with accessible museum storage to house the internationally significant collections managed by the Hunterian and Glasgow Museums. The University of Glasgow at Kelvin Hall will create inspiring spaces and opportunities for world changing research, teaching and learning. An Academy of Cultural and Heritage Skills will be created, developing and offering in-service training, CPD and knowledge exchange to the museum and cultural heritage sectors, nationally and internationally. Kelvin Hall will also host a number of community/school space and learning facilities.

At the National Library of Scotland at Kelvin Hall, visitors will be able to access the Library’s extensive digital resources. The interactive space will offer visitors a unique experience to explore films, maps, books and manuscripts in electronic format. The Moving Image Archive’s content will form the main offer at the centre with the added enhancement of the Library’s digital content and resources currently only available in Edinburgh. Working closely with colleagues to develop a new digital (and analogue!) access centre has added another dimension to the move developments and is where Ruth has had her work cut out.  Liaising with Linda MacMillan, the National Library’s Project Manager and working closely with her team, project partners and  Architects Paige & Park, Ruth was keen to ensure the archive and access centre met the needs of the Moving Image Archive.

This is a state of the art development for the archive and will offer easy access to thousands of films and videos capturing over 100 years of Scotland’s history and reflecting everything from Scottish social, cultural and industrial history to examples of the lives of ordinary people at home and work in Scotland across the generations.

Moving an archive is no mean feat and Ruth has been across every part of the planning with her wonderful, dedicated and patient team and faced numerous challenges and hurdles. Apart from the moving of equipment and the Hillington office it has involved setting up service contracts, checking the equipment works, procurement (Ruth’s favourite pastime!) safe relocation of 15 steenbecks and 2 film scanners, specialist packing, reassembly, ensuring equipment works once its moved and organising checking by specialist engineers. There’s also been the fun of choosing paint colours with her team and the choice of the carpet colour ‘Volcano’ might be significant!

“When I first saw the plans, it was a bit strange – but it totally works now. Seeing it emerge is so fabulous – seeing your creation come to life is so rewarding”

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The windows of the archive area extend along the rest of the street with Ruth’s new ‘double aspect’ office on the corner of Bunhouse and Old Dumbarton Road -( currently behind bars!) which she is looking forward to moving into.

During our special exterior tour, we bump into Gillian Stevenson, Special Projects Officer, Glasgow Life. This smiling is infectious! and Gillian certainly shares Ruth’s enthusiasm and excitement for the project.

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Ruth Washbrook, NLSMIA Collections Manager, and Gillian Stevenson, Special Projects Officer, Glasgow Life


For Ruth and her team to move into a state of the art facility (which they have had a part in designing), that’s fit for purpose and, so importantly, located in the heart of a vibrant cultural district is a wonderful opportunity to ensure more people access and engage with such a valuable film heritage.

The archive will be a public access showcase and drop-in facility. Ruth plans to open up collections to be viewed onsite which are not allowed to be viewed online. Her team have been working on new, specially curated content which will be viewable in the space. The initial 21 themes have been created by archive staff and guest curators to provide different perspectives.

“It will be great to be in the heart and an important part of Glasgow’s cultural district and making more links with partners -our neighbours, the University of Glasgow will be offering an MSc in Film Curation.”

“I’m excited to see who will come in” says Ruth. It’s been a long journey but we have so much to look forward to now”and how has she done it? – “being aware of your limitations, working with a great team and, of course, keeping your sense of humour”

The big move will be in 4 stages throughout July and August with the official opening scheduled for September. We are sure that all FAUK members would like to congratulate  Ruth and her colleagues on all their dedication and hard work and wish them all the best for a smooth move into Kelvin Hall and hope to visit soon to see for ourselves.

Jane Jarvis FAUK 5.6.16