Tucked down at the end of the Ardeer peninsula, the Big Idea Centre was an interactive museum – a Milennium Project, it had capital funding for construction but no ongoing support and was expected to make all it’s funding from visitors. That never happened – 120,000 visitors in the first year, 50,000 in the second were never going to keep the place running, and the much larger Glasgow Science Centre killed it off – it’s been closed since 2003.
I first went for a look at the beginning of January – it’s not an easy place to get to, you have to skirt past several miles of live explosive factory. There’s a footbridge which connects the centre to the mainland which visitors would have used for much easier access, but it’s been left open to allow shipping through.
I used all my most l33t ninja skills, even crawling through the ventilation shafts running far under the building, but there was no way in – and the happy blinking red lights of the alarm system meant that that wasn’t going to be a good idea anyway. So I took some external shots and left.
I’m not sure why I went back yesterday – perhaps a vague thought that I had missed something. Skirting the explosives factory and walking up to the centre, I turned the corner to almost walk into a big black Landrover. Oh oh. Well, I was there anyhow – no harm in asking. Walked up to the office door and knocked – and a big husky appeared on the other side of the glass and started barking madly. Double uh oh. Then his owner appeared. I explained myself, and asked if there was any chance of taking a few pictures inside the main building, expecting the usual Health and Safety excuses. “No problem – I’ll just turn off the alarm and put some lights on for you”!
So, obviously, this is a with-permission visit, thanks to the very friendly person in charge. I didn’t have all that much time as he had to go off, but I think I covered the major areas…
There’s a huge amount on the Nobel factory – loads and loads of old photographs, interactive exhibits, old items and tucked away in a storeroom a really cool model of a Nitroglycerine plant.