Fulfil the Five Pillars of Wellbeing at The Burrell Collection

It’s World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October. An increasing body of research underlines the important role accessing culture and nature can have on good mental health.

The reopening of The Burrell Collection, located within Pollok Country Park, will provide an exciting space where people can embrace both art and the countryside. This new day-out experience is a place where visitors will be able to participate in each of the five recognised pillars of wellbeing.

The pandemic has underlined our belief that wellbeing is not simply a medical matter. Good health demands help from each other and requires a society that supports people to thrive. As the world recovers from Covid-19, the refurbishment of The Burrell Collection is a reminder of culture’s contribution to Glasgow’s economic recovery, but also to building a mentally healthier society. We want to empower individuals to find a way of living that brings health benefits for all.
Councillor David McDonald Chair of Glasgow Life

2021 is going be a huge year for nature: Glasgow will host a historic international UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November, where creating a greener future for all will be a key priority for world leaders.

2022 is going to be a huge year for culture: The Burrell Collection will reopen in March, following an ambitious building upgrade and redisplay, strengthening Glasgow’s enviable reputation as one of the world’s great cultural and creative cities and a must-visit destination.

It’s a great time to better understand the links between nature, culture and mental wellbeing. Here are a few ideas to inspire more people to connect with both in new ways, noticing the benefit this can have on good health.



Spending quality time in the company of likeminded people is essential for wellbeing, as is access to green space. Science has started to unpack the extraordinary health benefits of connecting with others and with nature. Both can increase a sense of belonging, empathy and creativity and bring consolation at difficult times.

Many places, clubs, groups and activities enjoyed pre-pandemic have started to reopen. For many it’s great to be able to reconnect with family and friends. It’s also a great time to reconnect with treasured spaces and fall in love once again with a favourite spot in the countryside or city.

The Burrell Collection; one key theme of the redesigned building is to connect people inside and out; inside visitors will feel connected to nature and the natural environment, while outside they will be drawn in to explore Sir William’s incredible Collection.

The gift 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.” Highlights include paintings by renowned French artists Manet, Cézanne, Degas and Boudin.

Eugène Boudin was a French landscape painter, working in Paris he painted the sea as a means of connecting with nature.

Often mentioned in relation to Monet, it is recorded he told him ‘Do what I do, learn to draw well and appreciate the sea, light, the blue sky’. His painting The Jetty at Trouville, which will be on show in the 'new' Burrell, encourages people to think about what they are drawn to in nature.

The addition of more seating areas and gathering spaces will encourage visitors to spend time reflecting on and talking about the art. While new café and restaurant facilities provide the perfect backdrop for a catch up, or a friendly spot to revive after playing in the park. Muddy trainers welcome. 

Eugène Boudin The Jetty at Trouville


Be active

Being active is not only great for physical health, it boosts mental health by raising self-esteem and releasing positive endorphins in the brain, which makes people feel brighter.

Over the last 18 months many people built a daily walk into their routine. Stepping outside is quick, free and doesn’t require any equipment. During the pandemic 45% of people said having access to green spaces had been vital for their mental health, with places like Pollok Country Park even more important for the 1 in 10 households who have no access to a garden.

Pollok Country Park; offers a haven for sports enthusiasts and those who simply enjoy a stroll in the fresh air. With plenty of walking and cycle paths, the welcome return of organised activities such as Park Run and Good Moves walking groups and the reopening of football, rugby and cricket pitches, there is a huge choice of ways to be active. Or for something away from sport, why not spend time exploring hidden gems such as the Iron age fort or the Hobbit Village.

Park Run


One positive of the pandemic for some was the opportunity to use the extra time available to learn something new or become reacquainted with an old hobby or pastime. Programmes like Grayson Perry’s Art Club were a huge success.

Research shows that learning a different skill or discovering a passion for something new can improve mental wellbeing, by providing a sense of purpose, boosting self-confidence and giving a shared interest through which you can connect with other people. 

Even if time is limited there are lots of ways to bring learning into your life. Cook something different, tackle a nagging DIY project, or attempt a new hobby. No need for qualifications or exams, it’s about finding an activity you enjoy and making it part of your life.

The Burrell Collection; on reopening an engaging public programme will offer talks, events and activities providing a chance to learn about something new or enhance an understanding of something people are already passionate about.

Or, once reopen, simply come in and wander round. The gallery space has increased by 35%, allowing stunning objects that haven’t been seen for decades to go on show.

One new space will look at Makers and Making. New displays let you explore the collection through the eyes of the craftspeople, makers and artists who learned new skills such as carpentry, glazing, metalwork, sculpting and weaving to create them.

Learn about the materials, process, techniques and skills the objects represent. It might encourage people to try the craft or use one of the breath-taking objects as afocus for painting, sewing or vlogging.

Making figures

Take notice

‘There is something to be wondered at in all of Nature’ – Aristotle.

Recent studies also found that people were not only spending more time in nature, but noticing it more. When you stop and take notice of the little things in life it is easy to recognise nature’s role in bringing solace and joy to our lives.

Simple acts like listening to the birds, touching the bark of trees, smelling flowers or painting a picture of a favourite spot in nature can produce a feeling of space and being grounded in the moment.

Paying attention to the present, to thoughts and the world around you, are the underlining premise of mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better, positively changing the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Many believe this powerful concept will come to be viewed as important as exercise for overall good health.

Pollok Country Park; the next time you are in the park stop and look around. What is in front of you, what can you hear, see, smell and touch? Park signs point out the different trees, plants and birds you can spot. Can you see signs of the seasons changing?

Walking amongst the trees at Pollok Country Park


Everyone knows the plus points of being kind, whether you are on the giving or receiving side. It creates a warm fuzzy feeling, a sense of reward, purpose and self-worth. Be it small acts of kindness or larger ones like volunteering in the community, it all helps connect people.

The benefits of volunteering are well documented and vast; increased confidence, making a difference, meeting people, being part of a community, learning something new, taking on a challenge or just having fun. All of this is very effective in protecting positive mental wellbeing.

The Burrell Collection; there will be several different volunteer roles available when the museum reopens. These include helping at events, conservation activities, providing support to children and older people and becoming a collections guide. Outside in Pollok Country Park there is an opportunity to help with litter picking, bee and bird surveys, or at the park allotments. Current volunteers are keen to return. As well as helping visitors and the local community they say they get back far more than they give.

Alongside giving time, there is also the opportunity to give a financial donation to the refurbishment of the new museum, which has only been possible thanks to the contribution of so many people and organisations. By supporting The Burrell in this way, people are helping to bring back the greatest gift ever given to the City of Glasgow. 

The joy of volunteering at The Burrell