Burrell Collection welcomes over 100,000 visitors in first 50 days
The Burrell Collection in Glasgow welcomed 124,034 visits in the 50 days since it reopened on Tuesday 29 March following its major refurbishment, the charity Glasgow Life has confirmed.
The A-listed home of The Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park is a modern, greener museum that has already welcomed nearly as many people as it did in the full year of 2016 before it closed for refurbishment. The busiest single day so far was Good Friday, when nearly 5,000 visits were recorded.
Sir William Burrell devoted more than 75 years of his life to amassing, along with his wife, Constance, Lady Burrell, one of the world’s greatest personal art collections, renowned for its quality of Chinese art, exquisite stained glass and intricate tapestries, as well as its breadth of fine art.
The donation of the Collection to the city was described at the time as: “One of the greatest gifts ever made to any city in the world.” (Sir Hector Hetherington, Principal of Glasgow University).
Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life said: “The Burrell Collection is already realising its potential as a destination which will help our recovery from the pandemic by bringing local people and visitors to the south of Glasgow. It is clear that interest in The Burrell Collection is undiminished, which is reflected by the strong visitor figures since it reopened at the end of March. I have no doubt the exceptional quality, unique breadth and global significance of the Collection, housed in its beautiful and significantly improved home, will remain an irresistible draw in the years ahead, supporting local businesses and Glasgow’s tourism economy.”
Susan Deighan, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life said: “The popularity of The Burrell Collection, coupled with the positive reaction from visitors, demonstrates the affection for the museum and Collection. Visitors are able to appreciate more works than before, in a sustainable and significantly enhanced environment which gives the Collection even greater protection for generations to come. The relationship between the museum and Pollok Country Park is stronger than ever, allowing visitors the opportunty to spend more time enjoying this part of Glasgow.”
The Collection is home to the Wagner garden carpet which is one of the earliest surviving Persian garden carpets in the world, and has rarely been on public display since The Burrell Collection first opened in 1983. The museum’s refurbishment and redisplay means this priceless carpet will now be on long-term display, accompanied by new and innovative methods of interpretation.
Other highlights include Chinese pottery and porcelain produced over a 5,000-year period, making it one of the most significant collections of Chinese Art in Europe; paintings by renowned French artists including Manet, Cézanne and Degas; Medieval treasures including stained glass, arms and armour, and over 200 tapestries and 150 carpets, which are among the finest in the world.
Jennifer Lindsay, Principal Teacher at Tinto Primary said: "Our pupils had a fantastic time at the recent opening of the Burrell Collection. The interactive exhibits were some of their favourites. From whittling wood to glass blowing, the clever use of technology kept them fully engaged. Many have talked about return visits with parents and family, especially mentioning the gift shop and coffee shop!. Our P7 classes were also delighted to be asked to contribute to the labelling of some of the exhibits. We are excited about our future workshop collaborations and can't wait for another visit!"
Nearly half of the funding for the £68.25 million project was committed by Glasgow City Council, with more than a quarter coming from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and significant donations from The Scottish Government, the UK Government, and from many generous trusts and private donors.
The museum’s gallery space has increased by 35%, allowing important and unique objects from the Collection, which have not been seen for decades, or have never been on permanent display, to go on show.
New displays give visitors a better understanding of the international significance of The Burrell Collection’s artworks and the people who made them and some of the people who have owned them. In total, 225 displays are spread across 24 galleries. The displays include innovative digital elements such as video walls, interactives and hybrid systems created to help people engage with the stories behind the Collection.
A new central stairway allows visitors access to the lower floor of The Burrell Collection for the first time, where they can watch items not on display being cared for. A new special exhibition space has also been created. Similarly, new galleries have been created on upper floors which will take visitors to spaces in the building they have never seen before.
The museum’s environmental performance has been enhanced by greatly improving the building’s exterior through a new roof, glazing and cladding, and by replacing power, heating and lighting systems with more efficient and sustainable technologies.
The changes made to the fabric of the building to make it more air tight and water tight, and new glazing make it far less susceptible to changes in heat, and the upgrades of plant and systems means the building is far more efficient, and able to take advantage of new technologies in the future to lessen its impact further. The building has achieved industry standard BREEAM rating of “Excellent” – a major achievement for a refurbishment.
The Burrell Collection’s refurbishment is also bringing new visitors to Glasgow’s south side and to Pollok Country Park to enjoy a full day out. Pollok Country Park is Glasgow’s largest green space and is home to Pollok House, Pollok Stables and Sawmill which will be redeveloped, spectacular gardens, woodside walks and play areas. Paths and roads have been improved; benches, new signage and vehicle barriers restricting access along the main through-route in the centre of the park have been installed; and electric vehicle chargers, electric shuttle bus stops, and NextBike bikes and e-bikes will prioritise active travel.
As the world recovers from Covid-19, The Burrell Collection is a reminder of culture’s contribution to the international appeal and vibrancy of Glasgow. The opening of The Burrell Collection in 1983 was one of the first demonstrations of Glasgow’s commitment to cultural-led regeneration. By harnessing the power of its incredible cultural draw, Glasgow has positioned itself as one of the world’s great cultural and creative cities, making it a must-visit destination.