More than 70 masterpieces from Glasgow’s Burrell Collection are to go on display in Japan later this year as part of a campaign to raise the international profile of the museum while it undergoes a major refurbishment.
The paintings will be showcased in a touring exhibition that will visit five Japanese cities from October until January 2019.
They were all purchased by the Scottish shipping magnate and art collector Sir William Burrell and formed part of the eclectic collection he donated to his home city in 1941.
The museum built especially to house the collection was opened in Pollok Park in 1983, 25 years after Burrell’s death, and is currently undergoing a £66m refurbishment ahead of its planned reopening in 2020.
Among the items visiting the Far East are artworks by the likes of Boudin, Degas and Manet. The Japanese tour will be sponsored by Mainichi Newspapers, which is currently hosting paintings by Turner from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland.
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop made the announcement in Tokyo where she is on a trade and cultural mission.
“The Burrell Collection is a world-class and internationally significant museum, with many rare and wonderful items,” she said.
“Last year the Scottish Government was able to contribute £5 million towards ensuring that the building becomes a fitting 21st century home for the Burrell.
“I am delighted to announce that a selection of artworks from the Burrell Collection will go on to tour Japan for the very first time later this year.
“From Fukuoka to Tokyo to Hiroshima it is wonderful news that people across Japan will now be able to enjoy these precious artworks.”
Ms Hyslop is undertaking the five-day visit to strengthen economic and cultural links between Scotland and Japan.
The links between the two nations date back 150 years to a time when Scots engineers helped the Pacific nation kick-start its industrial revolution.
In 2016, goods exports to Japan increased by more than 10% to £460 million, making Japan the 19th top destination for Scottish exports.
Isle of Harris Gin and Harris Tweed will be among the products to feature at a reception at the British Embassy in Tokyo this week where Ms Hyslop will promote Scotland as an ideal location for Japanese investment.
James Robinson, director of Burrell Renaissance, which is overseeing the museum’s refurbishment, said: “It is truly exciting that works by Boudin, Degas and Manet will be seen by audiences in Japan for the first time. This is made possible by a recent revision in the Burrell Collection’s lending code which empowers it to participate in exhibitions overseas.
“The tour of Japan is the most extensive programme that we have developed with foreign partners. It will be accompanied by a Japanese language catalogue to ensure that the quality and comprehensiveness of the Burrell’s collection of French paintings is enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible”.