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Burrell at Kelvingrove: Collecting Chinese treasures

Home News

Burrell at Kelvingrove: Collecting Chinese treasures

Chinese treasures from The Burrell Collection now on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery

A carefully curated selection of masterpieces and very rare Chinese objects from the Burrell Collection is on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The 63 objects are made from either jade, ceramic or bronze and have been picked from around 1800 pieces from China in the Burrell Collection.


Burrell at Kelvingrove:Collecting Chinese Treasures is the latest free to visit, temporary exhibition to feature items from the Burrell Collection while the building undergoes a £66 million refurbishment. The Burrell Collection will re-open to the public in Spring 2021.


The works for this exhibition have been chosen by Jorge Welsh, an internationally renowned collector, dealer and expert in Chinese art with galleries in London and Lisbon, and Dr Yupin Chung, curator of Chinese and East Asian Art for Glasgow Museums.


Among the highlights are Tang Dynasty tomb guardian figures, elaborate forms of ritual bronzes more than 2,500 years old, a rare Ming Dynasty blue-and-white tankard and a Tantalus Cup which has the figure of a woman in the middle. It’s a 500 year old practical joke which pours liquid onto the victim from a hole in the bottom once the cup is filled to the brim. A video demonstrating the cup working is available at


The amount of Chinese works in the Burrell Collection represents the third largest collection in Europe. It contains around 146 pieces of jade which date as far back as the Shang dynasty, 170 bronzes and more than 1400 ceramics including objects from the Neolithic period.


Sir Angus Grossart, Chairman of Burrell Renaissance said: “It was Chinese art which was the largest part of Sir William Burrell’s gift to Glasgow. His supreme standards are reflected in the exceptional ceramics, jade and bronze objects which are on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  Their significance has grown enormously since his death as we have developed wider cultural understanding and curatorial knowledge. The Burrell Collection remains an international flagship for Glasgow so it is timely that these treasures can be seen at Kelvingrove while we complete the refurbished building and the redisplay of this world class collection.”  


Jorge Welsh, who co-curated the exhibition said: “With almost 2000 individual pieces, the Burrell Collection’s Chinese art is one of the most relevant, world class collections of its field.  It comprises high quality works of art covering most of the materials and periods of production of Chinese works of art. It was a privilege to guest co-curate the exhibition Collecting Chinese Treasures with Dr Yupin Chung, and to select a group of works of art that are representative of Sir William Burrell’s refined criteria and taste. The exhibition includes some of the most fascinating examples of bronze, jade and ceramic pieces acquired by one of the most prolific collectors of the time, including some of the most iconic examples, as is the case for what is thought to be the only recorded Meiping decorated with Persian inscriptions.”


Dr Yupin Chung, Curator of Chinese and East Asian Art at Glasgow Museums said: “Inspiration and pleasure were key aspects to consider when we were selecting the objects for the Collecting Chinese Treasures exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Burrell’s gift of his Collection connects audiences to their past, to rich and varied cultures, to inspiring ideas and to places in Glasgow and Scotland where the history of these Chinese objects developed their intercultural context.”


An ambitious refurbishment of the Burrell Collection building and redisplay of 9,000 objects will allow visitors, for the first time, to explore three floors dedicated to galleries, visible stores and special exhibitions.


More than 75 years of Sir William Burrell’s life were devoted to amassing one of the world’s greatest, single personal collections. The Burrell Collection is recognised as being of world-class quality, and reflects the outward looking, international confidence of the great collector.


The refurbishment will see the museum’s gallery space increase by 35% and public space increase by 83%, allowing important and unique objects from Burrell’s Collection which have not been seen for decades or have never been on permanent display to go on show for visitors to enjoy.


The cost of this major capital project for the city is estimated at £66 million with Glasgow City Council funding 50% of the overall project cost. Support from a variety of other funders has been overwhelming; donations and sponsorship from over 125 companies, trusts and foundations, and individuals, including £15million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, means over 97% of the funding is now in place.