Glasgow's Burrell Collection opens its doors following a five-year overhaul
March 31 2022
Glasgow's Burrell Collection has reopened its doors for the first time since 2016 following a five-year, £68.25m refurbishment programme carried out by John McAslan & Partners.
Interventions include the creation of a central stair and gathering space which opens up access to the lower and upper floors, increasing available gallery space by 35% and the number of objects on display from 1,800 to 5,500.
More controversially two additional entrances on the lower floor have been created from the cafe and the base of the central public space (agora). The agora makes use of a little-used lecture theatre to house stained glass displaced from the new entrance, incorporated on either side of the stairs that connect to open access stores, a temporary gallery and a cafe. This latter change illustrates the fundamental vertical shift at play for a collection that has always been defined by its horizontal relationship to Pollok Park as the building is made to work harder from the roof to the basement.
John McAslan, executive chairman at John McAslan + Partners told Urban Realm: "The original entrance didn't work, it really didn't work. I think that while it was elegant as an architectural entrance there are issues of access. It was a piece of theatre and that's fantastic. The reality was though that we felt that that was no reason that that piece of theatre could not be maintained and supported by a more straightforward gathering space for group visitors, not necessarily in a linear procession."
The refit has also provided an opportunity to upgrade power, heating and lighting systems while repairing notorious leaks which bedevilled the museum in its previous incarnation. That process saw existing glazing frames retained, saving over 8.5 tonnes of aluminium, a part of a package of facade enhancements that have seen the Burrell Collection achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating.
McAslan added: "In any listed building, whatever we do, apart from removing later accretions, we are impacting the original fabric. We're not there to try and make it better or be so arrogant that we are going to make this better. We're there to try and limit damage to the original concept and respect what existed through the change."
Opening around nine months late close to half the funding for the project was provided by Glasgow City Council, with the remainder provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scottish and UK governments as well as trusts and private donors.
Problematic glazed facades have been sensitively upgraded, retaining as much original fabric as possible
I fear that Civic Scotland is culpable on two fronts --
The base design was weak in the first place -- looked good but didn't do the basics like keep the rain out for long enough.
The maintenance of the building was sloppy / shoddy in equal measure with plenty of buckets bought to catch the drips rather than fixing the drips themselves.
Hope this latest incarnation of the building ages better than the first.
The ball is out of the ballpark and it is still climbing.
Fixing things does not seem to be in our civic / political DNA.
As noted above given the spending on the Burrell and the Botanic Gardens in Auld Reekie -- the state of the wintergardens at the Peoples Palace and Springburn Park are shameful.
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Well actually John, it did for me, and all my extended family of varying ages and mobility. The grand, solid, procession entrance into the Burrell was like passing to another world, particularly as a youngster. The new entrance just looks like a shopping centre.
I shall reserve full judgement until I actually visit, but from what I hear the new arrangement is more about the shopping experience than the museum experience - we shall see! Entrance aside, it's good to se the Burrell revitalised, it was always a jewel in Glasgow's crown. My grandfather took me there when it opened and talked me through the architecture - I was hooked, and have been there countless times since.