A-listed status for world-famous Burrell Collection

The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, one of the finest examples of 1970s architecture, has been awarded A-listed status by Historic Scotland. The building in the city’s Pollok Country Park, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, houses the vast, eclectic collection of arts and antiquities amassed by the shipping magnate, Sir William Burrell.

Sir William, who split his time between his house in Grosvenor Terrace in Glasgow and Hutton Castle near Berwick-upon-Tweed, gifted his entire collection of over 8000 objects to the then Glasgow Corporation in 1944. The principal rooms of Hutton Castle were reconstructed in the museum and include items from the hall, dining room and drawing room.

Burrell’s collection consisted of a wide and diverse group of paintings and other arts works from late Gothic and early Renaissance Europe. But is also included examples of Chinese art, French and Dutch paintings, Islamic art and objects from ancient civilizations.

In 1970, the Corporation launched a competition to design a bespoke building as a permanent home for the collection. It attracted a staggering 242 entries. Two years later, the design by architects Gasson, Anderson 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. Costing £16.5 million, the Burrell opened to the public in 1983 and attracts around 200,000 visitors each year.

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, welcomed the listed status, adding that the collection was “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.”

In the view of Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council, “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.”

A spokeswoman for The Twentieth Century Society, (a national amenity organisation) pointed out that The Burrell Collection represented an unique contribution to twentieth century architecture in Scotland and to museum design internationally. The building’s strength lay in its design, she explained, complementing the collection rather than competing with it, its sensitive palette of materials allowing it to blend with the landscape.

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David Calder has been a broadcast journalist for over 30 years. Before moving to the Caledonian Mercury, he worked for the BBC (national and regional) as well as parts of ITV and the World Service. He worked for prestigious programmes such as The Money Programme, You & Yours, Today and The World at One. He spent two years making mini-documentaries for Radio 5 Live and was a regular correspondent for CBC (Radio Canada). He was a regular reporter on various news and current affairs programmes on BBC Scotland as well as producing or presenting (sometimes both) science, legal affairs and arts programmes. As well as his contributions to the Caledonian Mercury, he is also a freelance producer in Scotland for the satellite channel, Al Jazeera.