See inside the 'new' Burrell Collection
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See inside the 'new' Burrell Collection

25/10/2016
Just two days after the Burrell Collection closed its doors to the public to allow work to begin on an estimated £60-£66 million refurbishment and redisplay, the first artists’ impressions of the proposed interior of the building have been made public.

The early stage design concepts reveal ambitious plans to modernise and improve the visitor experience, while retaining the architectural intent of the Category A listed building which is home to Sir William’s great legacy. Architects, John McAslan + Partners, together with Exhibition Designers, Event Communications, and Project and Cost Manager, Gardiner & Theobald LLP are working with staff from Glasgow Life, Cordia and Glasgow City Council to create a world-class museum environment as befits the quality of the 9,000 objects amassed by Sir William.

The collection includes rare examples of medieval stained glass, tapestries and sculpture, ancient Chinese ceramics, bronzes and jades, exquisite Islamic pile carpets as well as French painting from the Realist movement to Impressionism.  The riches of the medieval collection alone include vast assemblages of stained glass of outstanding quality and one of the largest and most significant holdings of tapestries anywhere in the world. These two impressive aspects of the collection place works from the Burrell alongside those found in institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

The overhaul of the building’s interior will allow a greater proportion of the collection to be accessible to the public, embracing innovative solutions that open up the footprint of the museum whilst maintaining the quality and integrity of the building. As well as providing a new central vertical core and increased access to the collection, including to the lower ground floor stores, improved facilities will include a café with access from the park at ground level, enhanced retail opportunities, and landscaped terraces linking the museum to its parkland setting. 

Sir Angus Grossart, Chair of Burrell Renaissance comments, “The designs will see the museum undergo the most comprehensive modernisation since opening to international acclaim in 1983. The proposals will deliver the high quality and innovative solutions for this exciting project. We expect to be able to show previously unseen works from this rich collection, and strengthen the reach of this extraordinary world-class museum.”

Councillor Archie Graham OBE, the Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, says: “Sir William’s legacy has been described as the greatest gift a city has ever received and we have a moral duty to ensure it is housed in the finest of buildings. Having seen the early design concepts, I’ve no doubt we will create an outstanding museum space, which reveals the incredible beauty, quality and depth of the collection. The Burrell Collection is a masterpiece and the refurbished and redisplayed museum will be one of Scotland’s finest cultural assets.”

James Robinson, Director of Burrell Renaissance says, “The proposal is a considered response to the design brief and all that’s unique to the Burrell Collection. The teams have thoroughly understood the requirements for the refurbishment and redisplay, showing a sensitivity and awareness of the Burrell’s cultural context. The Burrell Collection will be a beacon that both celebrates Sir William’s incredible legacy, and meaningfully links the unique building with its parkland setting.”

Hannah Lawson, Director at John McAslan + Partners, adds: “The Burrell provides an inspiring setting for shipping magnate Sir William Burrell's vast collection of art and antiquities within a category A listed building of international significance. John McAslan and Partners are delighted to be leading a team dedicated to the comprehensive repair and refurbishment of this architectural masterpiece. By providing a new circulation core we can open up new parts of the gallery to visitors and greatly increase the display area for the collections. Improved accessibility for all, together with a refreshed cafe and shop, will once again allow the Burrell to shine as one of Glasgow's most distinctive and enjoyable cultural assets." 

The refurbishment of the building will also be an exemplar of sustainable, low carbon design. The current building remains entirely electrically powered, with the original mechanical and electrical equipment becoming increasingly expensive to operate. Thermal energy loss is especially high, with the original glazing no longer meeting display and conservation standards required by world-class museums today. The proposed refurbishment programme will deliver sustainable solutions to help to reduce onsite energy costs, transforming the Burrell from a building with a large carbon footprint, into an energy efficient, modern museum.

The redisplay of the collection will also provide a far richer interpretation of the artefacts, greatly enhancing access to the 9,000 works within the collection.

The proposed designs are now on display at the Burrell at Kelvingrove display space, at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, giving the public an opportunity to view the designs and learn more about the museum’s plans.

The Burrell Collection is scheduled to reopen in 2020. 

Glasgow City Council has agreed to fund up to 50 per cent of the overall project cost with the UK Government awarding an additional £5 million to the Burrell Renaissance project in the Spending Review in November 2015, and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) pledging £15 million (including £1 million for the Stage 1 development phase). 

Details of the proposed concept designs are available on the museum’s website, www.burrellcollection.com

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