Burrell legacy

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The claims made by Mr Fiddimore (Letters, 17 December) with regard to Sir William Burrell and the proposal to realise the full potential of his unique gift are not founded in fact.

Sir William Burrell was an active and generous leader who encouraged loans from the collection within Britain.

Even at an early stage in his collecting he lent more than 200 works to the International Exhibition at Kelvingrove in 1902.

He made other loans throughout his life, including tapestries lent to cathedrals and numerous loans to many museums during the war.

Since his gift to the city, items from the Burrell Collection have gone on loan to numerous British institutions, in accordance with his wishes.

Sir William’s concerns, justified at the time, were with the prevailing physical hazards of international transport.

These invariably involved shipping, which, at that time, had major marine and dock handling risks.

We know that his shipping fleets suffered major losses in two world wars.

The proposal, to now permit international lending, reflects the transformational changes in international transport and handling arrangements, which have taken place in the past 60 years, and recognises that proven and tested standards are now widely accepted.

The trustees of Sir William Burrell’s will, who remain charged with representing his interests in all matters relating to his collection, also have a key role in any future international lending.

They have strongly supported the new arrangements.

The context of international lending has therefore changed, materially, and the Scottish Parliament has endorsed Glasgow’s proposals.

Mr Fiddimore refers to estimated repairs in 2001. That proposal, made 12 years ago, to repair an area of a roof, cannot be compared to the proposed complete museum refurbishment which will include a full redisplay of the collection.

The extent of the damage, not only to the roof but to the museum’s fabric, was only fully determined after a recent building survey.

A full refurbishment and redisplay will not only protect the treasures for generations to come, but allow the realisation of the true potential of Sir William’s extraordinary gift, increasing access, appreciation and interpretation.

We have the opportunity to liberate the vast, untapped potential and strength of the Burrell Collection. At last, justice can be done, in our time, to the outwards looking perspectives and high international ambitions which Sir William exemplified with his collection in his lifetime.

His great benefaction to Glasgow was not just his collection, but the width of culture and humanity which was reflected in the treasures he spent a lifetime amassing.

(Sir) Angus Grossart

Chairman

Burrell Renaissance

Queen Street

Edinburgh