Kier to complete Burrell Collection revamp in time for March 2022 reopening



The refurbishment of the A-listed Burrell Collection building in Glasgow is now nearing completion with the project set to reopen in March 2022, the charity Glasgow Life has announced.

The Burrell Collection external construction (Image courtesy of John McAslan + Partners)

The installation of works from the 9,000 strong Burrell Collection is now underway.

The global pandemic brought a halt to works on site in spring 2020 and adapted working methods led to the revised opening date.

Nearly half of the funding for the £68.25 million project was committed by Glasgow City Council with significant contributions from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Scottish Government, the UK Government, and from many generous trusts and private donors.

Architects John McAslan + Partners, appointed in 2016, are the refurbishment project’s architect and landscape designers.

John McAslan said: “Responding to the project’s brief has informed our approach across all key areas, starting with essential repairs and upgrades. We have developed alternative ways to access the building to begin the enhanced visitor journey – with an approach which utilises both the existing portal entry and a number of new, discrete additional entrances to increase permeability and connectivity.

“We have considered how best to integrate the beautifully top-lit courtyard and Hutton Rooms into the visitor experience. In all cases we have respected the original architecture and adjusted it appropriately.”

New gallery space (c) CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collections

Mr McAslan added: “Additionally, we have introduced energy conservation techniques throughout, whilst reconsidering the power and lighting needs of the Collection to support the improved conservation, interpretation and rotation of the Collection, including the Collection’s needs within the enfilade of north-lit galleries, affectionately known as ‘the walk in the woods’. We have then considered how these galleries might better connect with their southern counterparts and engage more effectively with repurposed internal galleries containing the Collection’s most light-sensitive elements.

“And, we have resolved how to remove the redundant lecture theatre to create a dramatic internal volume at the heart of the building, connecting each of the Collection’s principal levels – namely, the main gallery floor, a revived lower floor of open access storage, workshops, café and a special exhibition space, and connecting these floors with the repurposed learning spaces on the mezzanine above.

“In the context of enhancing the building’s setting, we are engaging more effectively with the landscape, as an integral part of the visitor experience, whilst reinforcing the Collection at the heart of Pollok Country Park.”

Kier Construction Scotland began works in 2018, making the space more accessible for visitors, adding a range of first-class facilities and carefully restoring and improving parts of the building, including the roof and windows to make it a more energy efficient. Works to the building fabric are designed to make it more airtight, reducing overall energy requirements.

Phil McDowell, regional director of Kier Construction North & Scotland, said: “Over the last three years, our skilled teams and local craftspeople have carefully refurbished, modernised and transformed the space at the Burrell Collection.

“The gallery space has increased by over a third which means more of the unique objects can be displayed, sustainable solutions are in place across the building to reduce energy usage and accessibility for visitors and staff is at the heart of the new design. Utilising our expertise in heritage projects, we are proud to have refurbished the Burrell Collection for visitors to enjoy for years to come.”

An Arabesque Carpet being recovered for protection (c) CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collections

The works are in sympathy with the original concept for the building, designed by Barry Gasson, John Meunier and Brit Andresen, which Historic Environment Scotland described as: “An outstanding bespoke museum commission of international importance, and an important example of Structuralist Tendency in architecture in the second half of the 20th century, emphasising the users experience and the sense of place, and, in particular, making the most of the interior and exterior interface with the surrounding landscape.”

Construction works are nearing completion, the fit-out of the gallery spaces is underway and the installation of the works of art has begun. This includes completing the dedicated special exhibitions and events space, three catering outlets and the retail area, ahead of opening in March 2022.

Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life and depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “When The Burrell Collection first opened in 1983, the museum was the first tangible sign of Glasgow’s ambition to reinvent its global image and become an internationally-recognised cultural powerhouse, demonstrated by the city being awarded European Capital of Culture in 1990.

“Nearly 40 years later, Glasgow is a must-visit destination for people from across the UK and around the world. The reopening of The Burrell Collection will spark renewed interest in the city and in the beauty and world-class significance of the works of art. The Burrell Collection was an exceptional gift to Glasgow, and we are looking forward to sharing it with the world again from March 2022.”



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