However, it's not the case, as the exhibition title suggests, that Thomson is entirely unknown in Glasgow. His churches, terraces and commercial buildings are part of the fabric of the city; they stop you dead in your tracks with their sublime appeal. But until now, little was known about Thomson, and this rightly ambitious show sets out to scotch a few myths and restore his reputation as a key figure in making Glasgow one of the great Victorian cities. The "Greek" tag earns a thorough going- over: not least because Thomson never left Britain, let alone visited Greece, and he was just as ready to use Gothic and Egyptian elements as Ionic columns.
Best of all are exhibits revealing the Thomson we never had chance to know because of demolition or unexecuted plans. A stunning model of Queens Park Church, hit by a bomb in 1943, dominates one room, with a computerised fly-through of the exotic-coloured interior. A video reconstruction of Thomson's plans for glass-roofed streets to replace city slums shows his involvement with public health: four of his children had died of cholera. There is much attention to interiors, too; his designs were just as audacious as his building plans, as we see in footage from the interior of Holmwood House (recently saved by the National Trust) and from one of his drawing-room sideboards. Forget every other sideboard you have encountered: this is monumental, like a building crossed with a hefty church organ.
Most fascinating are his recently rediscovered original drawings, including an astonishing design for the Albert Memorial. It's unclear why Thomson produced this image - he was not among architects invited to submit designs - but it's clear why it wasn't chosen. Like some Eastern temple, some hugely dramatic ancient Egyptian monument complete with lions at the base, it resembles a strange obelisk from a Goya-inspired apocalyptic dreamscape. Thomson loved obelisks, and said they embodied "an imperishable thought". It's inexplicable and sad that both Thomson's buildings and his reputation haven't fared likewise. But if any exhibition can redress the balance, this one can. At least, and not before time, Thomson will no longer be all Greek to us.
`Alexander Thomson: The Unknown Genius': The Lighthouse, Glasgow (0141 287 7346). Building opens 8 July. Exhibition closes 19 SeptemberReuse content