Burrell Collection Bill Goes to Parliament
A bill which would allow items from the internationally significant Burrell Collection to go on tour for the first time has begun its passage through the Scottish Parliament. Glasgow City Council has introduced the Private Bill to secure a legal solution to lift current restrictions on overseas lending which were included in Sir William Burrell’s original bequest.
Sir William stipulated he would not allow any works to be loaned overseas. As a shipping magnate, he was all too aware at that time of how the works he had collected might be damaged in transit. The Trustees of the Burrell Collection, Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council have been involved in detailed discussions about a potential refurbishment of the museum and the Private Bill to change the terms of the bequest.
The Burrell Collection is an outstanding international vision. Sir William Burrell collected around 8,000 items reflecting his lifelong passion for art and history and donated the Collection to his home city of Glasgow. The Collection, which includes medieval, Chinese, French and Islamic art of global significance, has been housed in the museum in the city’s Pollok Park.
The museum opened in 1983 and the general consensus is that the building now requires refurbishment. The building in which the Burrell Collection is housed, while architecturally distinguished, is now presenting significant problems and barriers to access in some areas. In 2012, some short-term repairs were made to the building’s roof. Proposals will be put forward to the Council for refurbishment of the museum which provides an opportunity to lend works from this internationally significant Collection not only within the UK but also to overseas institutions.
Such a tour would be used to reaffirm the Collection’s international status and also help with public fundraising efforts toward the cost of refurbishment.
Councillor Archie Graham, the Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “The start of the Private Bill’s passage through the Scottish Parliament marks another step towards sharing Sir William’s outstanding vision with an international audience whilst we refurbish the building which has been its home for the last 30 years. The Council, Glasgow Life and the Burrell Trustees continue to work together to explore how best to address the concerns Sir William had about sending objects abroad whilst recognising that shipping and conserving such precious items has developed significantly in the 60 years since Sir William made his bequest to Glasgow.”
The city has established Burrell Renaissance, which will advise on the strategic direction of the refurbishment project and provide advice on key aspects of the redisplay and a programme of international touring while the building is closed for refurbishment. Burrell Renaissance will also develop and support fundraising for the project.
Such a tour would reaffirm the Collection’s status as one of the most important in the world.
Sir Angus Grossart, Glasgow Life Board Member and the Chairman of Burrell Renaissance, said: “The Burrell Collection is world-class which is reflected by the high number of requests received every year for loans and assistance with all manner of research projects. Sir William’s collection not only reflects the outward looking international confidence of a very great collector but also his high standards and astuteness which were matched by his competitive reach and his energetic persistence.”
Sir Angus, a former Chairman of both the National Galleries, and the National Museums of Scotland added: “The Burrell Collection is an international flagship, which showcases a man, who over 70 years, collected some of the finest works of art and antiquities from across the globe. We now have the opportunity to tell the world about one of Scotland’s greatest philanthropists and his single-minded vision to create a unique legacy for both city and nation.”