Plans to refurbish a museum containing one of Scotland’s most internationally significant collections of art have been boosted by a £1m donation from businessman Sir Angus Grossart.
The Burrell Collection will use the award from the prominent banker to help pay for the ambitious development, which will increase display space by 35 per cent and allow more of the 9,000 items in its possession to be shown.
Sir Angus, a former vice-chairman of RBS, leads the Burrell Renaissance committee which is overseeing the project. The museum closed to the public in 2016 to allow work to begin and is not expected to reopen until 2020.
The Burrell, based in Glasgow’s Pollok Park, boasts priceless examples of medieval art, tapestries, stained glass and English oak furniture. The idiosyncractic collection also includes paintings by Cezanne and Degas, an important collection of Islamic art, and modern sculpture, including works by Epstein and Rodin.
Every item was acquired by Scottish shipping magnate and art collector Sir William Burrell. He bequeathed his entire collection to the then Glasgow Corporation in 1941, with strict instructions that it should be housed in a rural setting outwith the city centre.
A purpose-built museum was finally opened in 1983, 25 years after Sir William’s death.
It is hoped the refurbishment of the A-listed building will boost the international profile of the collection, with several pieces being loaned to other galleries while work is carried out.
Sir Angus said: “Sir William’s gift is an international flagship for Glasgow. Much has moved on since the initial priority of creating a home for the Collection.
“The Burrell Collection now needs a real renaissance which will place the true significance of Sir William’s legacy and Collection within the international league where it should be set. The challenge is highly ambitious, but what a privilege it is for our generation to be asked to rise to that call and to take forward this great inheritance.
“Glasgow has been defined by international aspirations and cultural reach. Sir William entrusted his life’s work to the city he called home. Mindful always of his wishes, we are seeking to secure much wider recognition of his vision and achievements. We still have £3 million to raise and we hope more people will help us and support this great opportunity.”
James Robinson, director of the Burrell Renaissance, said: “Sir Angus’s commitment to the project as chairman has shaped its ambition and strategy from the outset. We are enormously grateful to him for this hugely generous gift as further evidence of his passion for the Burrell Collection and his belief in its ability to reach global audiences for generations to come.”