Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow's Burrell Collection 'may go on tour' during revamp

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Media captionWays to work round restrictions on the exhibits are being considered

Glasgow's famous Burrell Collection could be sent on tour overseas - against the wishes of the shipping magnate who assembled it.

The move is part of plans to close and revamp the museum in Pollok Park, which has housed the collection since 1983.

Any overseas tour would require restrictions on Sir William Burrell's bequest to be relaxed.

The legal solution being considered is the promotion of a private bill at the Scottish Parliament to lift the ban.

The internationally significant collection has more than 8,000 items of medieval, Chinese, French and Islamic art.

Sir William, who died in 1958, gifted it to Glasgow Corporation in 1944.

Architecture praise

Under the terms of the bequest, he stipulated that he would not allow any works to be loaned overseas.

As a shipping magnate, Sir William was concerned that works he had collected might be damaged in transit.

Successive Glasgow councils took until the 1960s to identify the Pollok Park site as meeting the terms of the bequest.

The museum, which was opened by the Queen in 1983, was voted Scotland's second greatest post-war building in a magazine poll of architects in 2005.

Trustees and the city council now believe the museum is "presenting significant problems and barriers to access in some areas" and needs refurbished.

They are working on proposals which would see the building closed, with some objects stored.

During the closure period, they hope to lend works from the collection within the UK and overseas.

The Burrell Trustees and Glasgow Life, which runs the museum on behalf of Glasgow City Council, are now looking at ways to "relax restrictions and allow an international tour".

Glasgow Life is overseeing the drafting of a bill at Holyrood to overturn the ban.

Sir Peter Hutchison, who chairs the Burrell Trustees, said: "The trustees welcome the forthcoming refurbishment, which will transform the Burrell building and provide a fitting context for this world class collection.

'Structural defects'

"New gallery space will be created, a wider range of objects displayed, facilities upgraded, and any structural defects, such as the roof, remedied.

"The trustees also support the application to the Scottish Parliament to enable a major tour during the period of closure which would not only assist with fundraising, but would also raise the Burrell's profile and demonstrate the extraordinary range and quality of Sir William's unique legacy."

Options being explored could see the collection loaned to major venues in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia.

Cllr Archie Graham, depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The collection's home in Pollok Park is in serious need of attention and the council will consider options for its refurbishment.

"Sir William Burrell left his mark on the world, both as a businessman and as an art collector, historian and philanthropist.

"His gift to the people of Glasgow cannot be underestimated and we are now working to find a way to make this international touring exhibition happen."

Cllr Graham said any progress on a tour would "be mindful" of Sir William's wishes and "help to secure much wider recognition for his vision and achievements".

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