The Mitchell Library is one of the most recognisable buildings in Glasgow. Located between the City Centre and the West End, it has served the public of Glasgow – and beyond – with learning, information and cultural needs for over 100 years, and in several locations. The Library opened with 14,000 items of stock; today it houses over one million.
Over the years, the Library has accumulated a small collection of paintings from bequests, donations, loans and gifts. A portrait of Stephen Mitchell, the library’s first benefactor, proudly hangs in the old building’s North Street entrance. Mr and Mrs Robert Jeffrey’s portraits hang in the Jeffrey Library alongside the bookcases from their home, Crosslee House. The bookcases were bequeathed along with Robert Jeffrey’s entire collection of books. A portrait of George Baillie, another benefactor, can be seen in Baillie’s Reading Room.
The Mitchell Library also plays host to a variety of exhibitions and events. In 2004, reflecting the changing needs of its users, the original Main Reading Hall – a magnificent space with stunning architectural features – was restored and began a new life as an exhibition space. One of the first exhibitions held was of John Bellany’s paintings. The artist’s work is in some of the world’s greatest collections, including the Metropolitan Museum and Tate Britain, and the Library is proud to have been given two paintings by the artist.