THE Burrell Collection in Glasgow will reopen in March 2022 following an ambitious building upgrade and redisplay, the charity Glasgow Life has confirmed.
Installation of the works of art has now begun as Kier Construction Scotland finishes work on the refurbishment of the A-listed building at Pollok Park.
Nearly half of the funding for the £68.25 million project was committed by Glasgow City Council, with significant contributions from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Scottish Government, the UK Government, and from many trusts and private donors.
The first opening of The Burrell in 1983 was one of the first demonstrations of Glasgow’s commitment to cultural-led regeneration.
The revamp began in 2018 with repairs to the roof and the installation of modern glazing making the building more airtight, reducing its overall energy consumption. A combined heating and power supply has also been installed.
A new entrance will bring visitors straight into the heart of the building and a newly-created central stair will encourage people to explore all three floors of the for the first time.
The outdoor green space has been also been enhanced, creating new links between the museum and its park setting.
The museum’s gallery space will have increased by around a third, allowing important and unique objects which have not been seen for decades, or have never been on permanent display, to go on show.
Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life, and depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “It’s wonderful to see that the installation of Sir William’s precious, beautiful and intriguing collection has begun, now the delicate refurbishment of its home is almost at an end.
“This major refurbishment and redisplay will celebrate Sir William’s outstanding gift to the city and ensures it is at the heart of Glasgow’s cultural identity for the future and having much more of the collection on display and accessible will be one of its immediate successes.
“Sir William’s incredible legacy will help Glasgow and Scotland’s recovery from covid-19, bringing increased pride and confidence, which has a tangible effect on our wellbeing. As we move out of a pandemic that is vital.”
Chief executive of Glasgow Life, Dr Bridget McConnell, said: “March 2022 will mark a historic milestone in Glasgow’s story, as the completely refurbished Burrell Collection reopens to the world.
“Very soon, thanks to all the project’s funders, these wonderful works of art, which Sir William Burrell gave to the people of Glasgow, will be enjoyed in a modern, green museum, fit for purpose and for the future.
“Our vision for The Burrell Collection demonstrates the city’s ambition for it to become more widely appreciated and well known around the world and for Glasgow to retain its place as a global cultural leader.
Since The Burrell Collection closed to the public in October 2016, a comprehensive consulation programme has engaged with more than 15,000 local people, giving ideas, insights and opinions which have shaped every aspect of the redesign of the building, access to it and the development of the displays, galleries and spaces within and around the museum.
Sir William devoted more than 75 years to amassing one of the world’s greatest, single personal collections, renowned for its quality of Chinese art, exquisite stained glass, intricate tapestries and breadth of fine art.
The gift of the collection to the city was described at the time by Sir Hector Hetherington, principal of Glasgow University, as: “One of the greatest gifts ever made to any city in the world.”
Collection highlights include Chinese pottery and porcelain produced over a 5,000-year period, making it one of the most significant collections of Chinese art in Europe; paintings by renowned French artists; Medieval treasures including stained glass, arms and armour and more than 200 tapestries and carpets, which are among the finest in the world.
The collection is also home to the Wagner Garden carpet which is one of the three earliest surviving Persian garden carpets in the world, and has rarely been on public display since the Burrell Collection opened; the refurbishment and redisplay means it will be on permanent view accompanied by new and innovative methods of interpretation.
Sir Angus Grossart, chair of Burrell Renaissance, said: “The Burrell Collection has a reputation as being one of the finest in the world. The wonderful new displays have enhanced and informed what visitors will see. They will find great cultural diversity, much beauty and wonder and the great achievement of one enquiring and questioning mind, that of Sir William Burrell.”
Caroline Clark, Scotland director for the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “It is very exciting to think of the Burrell’s doors re-opening on this incredible art collection. Our major award of £16.5million was given in recognition not only of the importance of the Burrell’s stunning collection and architecture, but also because of the creative and
inclusive design approach taken by Glasgow Life, with over 15,000 people sharing their ideas and collectively helping to create the new displays.
“We should applaud the effort of each and every one of these people as we celebrate the news that this much-loved cultural icon will be re-opening this coming March.”