I’ve already written separately about the cone statue and the works by Beryl Cook that are on display. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much else of interest in the gallery, it’s all really designed to be elitist rather than accessible as far as I can tell. Minimal explanations of most artworks are annoying, especially when they have longer explanations on their web-site.
There’s one interesting part of the gallery, which is a permanent exhibition over two floors which is about the history of the building. The site has been used for numerous purposes, not least as a private residence and then a major rebuild saw the Royal Exchange move in. In 1949, businesses became less interested in the Royal Exchange and it closed, being transformed into a library. This then closed in 1983 and work started a few years later to turn it into the Museum of Modern Art, which opened in 1994.
The gallery is rated relatively poorly on review sites, pretty much right at the bottom of major galleries in Scotland on Google and TripAdvisor and well below their modern art equivalent gallery in Edinburgh. One thing can perhaps be noticed from my photos, which is that this was not a popular gallery given that there was nearly no-one else in there. The staff looked bored, either talking to themselves or looking at their phones. One acknowledged me with a verbal greeting, the rest seemed entirely disinterested about the whole arrangement and none were pro-actively engaging with their handful of visitors. I shared their lack of enthusiasm if I’m being honest.
I’m sure some visitors will love the works on display, but I’m unsure why such a beautiful building is being so heavily under-used in this way. Anyway, it’s been there for over two decades and I imagine it’ll be there for longer, but it’s a shame that it’s not more accessible to the many and not the few. It is at least free of charge though, which makes the low reviews even more inexplicable. It currently asks visitors to not visit for more than two hours to help with capacity issues, although I really can’t imagine this can be much of a problem.