1950s & 1960s
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s there was more emphasis on the museum-side of activity at Kelvingrove with frequent exhibitions devoted to industrial themes as well as a continuing programme to modernize displays.
The presence of star items from the Burrell Collection was very popular with art lovers. These were either as part of special exhibitions or integrated within the general collections. The combined displays of French paintings at this time were particularly strong, and they remained at Kelvingrove until the Burrell opened in 1983.
Despite a massive cutback in the acquisition fund, some major purchases were made with the assistance of government grants and other funders including the National Art Collections Fund, the Hamilton Bequest and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
In 1974, Van Gogh’s portrait of Alexander Reid was bought from the sitter’s grandson for £166,250, the highest yet paid by the gallery. The cost was secured with the assistance of a government grant, an anonymous London trust, the National Art Collections Fund and a fund-raising committee of the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museums Association.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
The neglect of Glasgow's greatest artistic genius, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, began to be rectified in the 1970s when Kelvingrove displayed some rescued items from Mackintosh's demolished Glasgow Tearooms. From then on the acquisition of Mackintosh and related material gathered pace. A loan exhibition of Mackintosh watercolours was assembled and went on tour in the UK.
Steps were taken to give Mackintosh the recognition he deserves and a number of initiatives began by the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Art Gallery, the School of Art and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society.