The Burrell Collection, Glasgow marks first anniversary of reopening after major refurbishment
The Burrell Collection in Glasgow is marking one year since it reopened on 29 March 2022, following a major refurbishment.
In 12 months over 600,000 people have visited the world-class museum, cementing its place in the local community, while securing substantial economic benefit for the city and enhancing Glasgow’s international reputation as the cultural capital of Scotland.
A recent evaluation asked visitors about their experience of The Burrell Collection. Glasgow Life, the charity that runs the city’s museums, found that everyone questioned rated their overall experience at the museum as ‘good’ or ‘very good, with all saying they would recommend a visit to friends and family.
Central to visitors’ positive experiences was the building itself, its location within Pollok Country Park and the many different methods of interpretation that allow people to connect with the collection. Community collaboration involving over 15,000 people shaped every aspect of the redesign. This has proved instrumental in achieving a highly rated new day out experience for visitors.
Many visitors commented on how hard staff and volunteers at the Burrell work to ensure each person experiences a real connection to the artworks. For one it was staff speaking in Urdu with a visitor from the southside of Glasgow, for another it was their autistic son engaging with objects in a museum for first time.
Several refugees have referenced the joy of connecting with artworks on display that stimulate memories from their homes and childhoods and many people participating in the LGBTIQ tours have spoken of their joy at being ‘seen’ in a museum for the first time.
Visitor figures are expected to remain solid, given the high appetite for repeat visits. 78% of respondents indicated a strong intent to return to The Burrell Collection again, stating there was a lot to see and there would be something new and different to discover later.
Looking ahead, visitors can enjoy a World Food Festival this summer, participate in a growing programme of themed talks and workshops, join in themed weekends for families, read new publications and take up additional volunteering opportunities at the museum.
The Burrell Collection was one of the greatest gifts ever given to Glasgow and a gamechanger for the city in becoming the thriving cultural destination it is today. A year ago, it reopened after major refurbishment. Strong visitor numbers and the overwhelmingly positive visitor sentiment that the museum is inclusive, well-designed, family friendly, and has displays that convey clear information to many different audiences is welcome reading. What makes a museum successful is a combination of the richness of its collection, the magnificence of the building, and, importantly, how people feel when they visit. The Burrell Collection champions inclusion and accessibility for all. It’s exciting, engaging, and fun. On the one-year anniversary we are reminded of the Burrell’s significant contribution to wellbeing, to the international appeal of Glasgow and to the affection felt by local people and tourists for the museum.
The reimagined breath-taking Collection and its unique setting in the city’s only country park proved to be a winning combination, tempting many who had never visited the museum before to experience it for the first-time. 74% of people asked were visiting for the first-time, while the remaining 26% had been before. Interestingly, most repeat visitors had returned since the reopening last year, suggesting an eagerness to come back within a relatively short space of time.
The evaluation concluded the museum was a major draw for locals and tourists alike, with 45% visiting from Glasgow, a further 45% from outside Scotland, and the remaining 10% coming from the rest of Scotland.
To help mark the occasion children from a local school, St Conval’s Primary, were at the museum preparing for a longer visit in April. They took time out to create sustainable cards to celebrate the first anniversary of the Burrell reopening and enjoy some cake.
For us, one of the real strengths of the museum partnership is the connections the children have made to the artefacts and the Burrell itself. The incredible collection gives the children’s learning context and allows them to make real- life connections to the past. The museum allows the children to access the collection in an interactive and meaningful way. The children particularly enjoy seeing objects such as the Ming Vases which have featured in their learning at school.
The reopening on 29 March 2022 was the start of a major new chapter for one of the country’s most internationally significant, sustainable, and treasured museums. In August the museum’s inaugural exhibition, The Burrells’ Legacy: A Great Gift to Glasgow, at the refurbished museum opened. Two months later, His Majesty King Charles officially opened The Burrell Collection nearly 40 years after it was originally opened by the Queen.
Throughout the year hundreds of volunteer-led tours have been given, several well-attended themed weekends have brought new people to the museum, community collaborations have gone from strength to strength, four books have been published and the museum has taken part in filming several television programmes.
Across 2022 and into 2023 the reimagining of The Burrell Collection has won many awards, including both the Culture and Heritage Award at the prestigious Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards and ‘Best Shop' at the Association for Cultural Enterprises Awards.
Following the refurbishment, the museum’s gallery space increased by 35%, enabling visitors to see and appreciate much more of the Collection. In total, 225 displays are spread across 24 galleries.
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.