A-listed status for world-famous Burrell Collection
1 February 2013
The internationally-renowned Burrell Collection in Glasgow has been awarded A-listed status by Historic Scotland in recognition of its position as one of the country’s finest examples of 1970s architectural design.
The building – which this year marks its 30th anniversary, is located in the city’s Pollok Country Park and houses the vast collection of paintings, sculptures and decorative art and antiquities amassed by city-born shipping magnate and philanthropist Sir William Burrell. He gifted the entire collection of over 8000 objects in 1944 to the then Glasgow Corporation.
In 1970 the Corporation launched a competition to design a bespoke building to permanently house the collection. The competition attracted a staggering 242 entries. Two years later, the design by architects Gasson, Andersen and Meunier was selected and work started in 1978.
The winning design stood out from the others due to its position within Pollok Country Park, nestling into the woodland at the edge of the open parkland. The interior spaces were designed to display the collection in an accessible and visually stimulating way.
The four-storey building, which is run by Glasgow Life on behalf of Glasgow City Council is regarded as a rare and significant post-war commission for a museum building in Scotland and is an influential example of a large public architectural commission in the UK.
At a cost of £16.5 million, the Burrell Collection opened to the public in 1983 and attracts around 200,000 visitors each year.
Historic Scotland’s A-listing is the highest level of recognition for buildings and is for buildings of national or international importance. Only 8 per cent of the country’s listed buildings are A-listed with the remainder being categorised B or C.
Welcoming the listed status, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: ”The Burrell Collection is one of Glasgow and Scotland’s most impressive buildings of its period and has contributed so much to our understanding of design thinking and the innovative use of interior and exterior space.
“The A-listing for the Burrell Collection is a fitting tribute especially in this its 30th year and recognises the significant contribution it has made to Glasgow’s landscape and the aesthetic pleasure it has brought to many over the years.
“This is a fantastic building that not only houses the internationally renowned collection of art and antiquities from across the world, but is itself a masterpiece of structural design.”
Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council said: “It says everything about the Burrell Collection building that is regarded so highly in its own right and is often named as one of Scotland’s best. The A-listing from Historic Scotland allows us to celebrate this world famous building as proposals are brought forward for a refurbishment which will secure it for future generations.”
Clare Price, Conservation Advisor with national amenity organisation, The Twentieth Century Society, said: “We are delighted by Historic Scotland’s endorsement of the significance of this pioneering 1970s building, which we featured in our 2012 Journal on The Seventies. We believe The Burrell Collection represents a unique contribution to twentieth century architecture in Scotland and to museum design internationally. The building’s strength lies in its design: complementing the collection rather than competing with it, its sensitive palette of materials allowing it to blend with the landscape.”
Notes for editors
- Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) lived at 8 Grosvenor Terrace Glasgow and at Hutton Castle, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, Scottish Borders, from circa 1927 (purchased in 1916) until his death in 1958. The principal rooms of Hutton Castle were reconstructed in the museum and include items from the hall, dining room and drawing room. Burrell's vast collection consisted of over 8,000 items and focused on late Gothic and early Renaissance Europe. The collection also contains outstanding examples of Chinese art, French and Dutch paintings, Islamic art and objects from ancient civilizations. Some of the architectural fragments included in the building came from 16th century Hornby Castle, Yorkshire.
- Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with ensuring that our historic environment provides a strong foundation for a successful future for Scotland. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.
- Historic Scotland has 345 historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit: www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/places
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- The Twentieth Century Society is the national amenity society concerned with the protection, appreciation, and study of post-1914 architecture, townscape and design.