The Burrell Collection in Glasgow is one of Britain’s great museums, said Gabrielle Schwarz in The Daily Telegraph. It opened in 1983 to house the “delightfully idiosyncratic” personal collection of Scottish shipping magnate William Burrell (1861-1958), who assembled a cornucopia of 9,000 works of art and antiques.
His particular strengths include “medieval stained glass and tapestries, Chinese ceramics, and the paintings and pastels of Edgar Degas”; But it includes everything from Islamic textiles to Assyrian, Roman and Greek artifacts, from a Rembrandt self-portrait to an extraordinary 17th-century Persian carpet full of “images of animals and plants”.
The building, an unusual ‘modernist pavilion’, is itself one of the finest 20th-century buildings in Scotland. Still, it’s been plagued by problems since it opened, with leaking roofs forcing curators to leave buckets to catch dripping water. Now, after a six-year £68million refurbishment, that ‘pesky roof’ has finally been repaired and finally reopened to the public.
It’s good to be back, said Susan Mansfield The Scot. The renovation has increased Burrell’s exhibition space by approximately 35% and also added upgraded visitor facilities, interactive displays and improved lighting to better showcase its treasures. Much of the exhibition is themed: a ‘glorious’ room, featuring Burrell’s modern art acquisitions, shows us lovely paintings by Whistler, Sisley and the so-called ‘Glasgow Boys’, while another focuses on ‘traditions surrounding death’ and offers Chinese ritual bells , an Egyptian funerary ship and artifacts from Egyptian tombs.
But the revamped Burrell Collection isn’t perfect: Exquisite floral paintings by the likes of Manet, Henri Fantin-Latour and Samuel Peploe are mounted on a “hugely distracting” animated wall of “dancing flowers.” Worse still are the infantile captions rewritten as a “drive for accessibility”.
It hardly matters, Rachel Campbell-Johnston said in The times. “The objects, so ancient, so ravishing, so lovely, so eloquent, are quite capable of speaking for themselves.” In a single visit, you may encounter Rodin’s sculpture Eve after the fall; “Roman Mosaics and Renaissance Armor”; paintings by Frans Hals, Cranach, Courbet and Daumier; even the marriage bed of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, where the pregnant queen is said to have “forced a lady-in-waiting to sleep with her husband to prevent him from straying further”. Nice that “one of the largest private collections in the world” has found a suitable home.
Pollok Country Park, Glasgow (burrellcollection.com). Now open to the public
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/art/956598/glasgow-new-look-burrell-collection-reopened-review Glasgow’s revamped Burrell Collection: one of Britain’s greatest museums is back