The Collection, the gift to Glasgow and the charity that cares for it.
The Burrell is not just a magnificent building, nor is it just an array of precious works of art – it’s a magical mystery tour and an aesthetic event rolled into one.
About Sir William Burrell
Sir William Burrell (1861–1958) was born and raised in Glasgow. He joined his father and brother in the family business as a shipping merchant, and through clever investments, made a fortune. This allowed him to pursue his life’s work – collecting art and antiques.
Even at school his love of art was apparent. He bought his first painting aged 15 with a few shillings he’d been given for a cricket bat. This was the catalyst for a great love and appreciation of art. He went on to be an active collector for over 75 years, with a passion to learn and understand more about the art and objects lasting his whole life.
By 1900, he was a respected collector in the fields of late Gothic and early Renaissance European art, including magnificent tapestries and stained glass and late 19th century French art, including more than 20 works by Edgar Degas.
He was one of the largest donors of artworks to the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition, the legacy of which is the much-loved Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
He was knighted in 1927 for services to art.
Sir William believed in free education for all and wanted the people of the city to be able to access his fine collection. In 1944, together with his wife Constance, he generously gifted the Collection to the City of Glasgow.
When The Burrell reopens next year, visitors will for the first time, be able to get a real insight into the life of Sir William, Lady Constance and their daughter Marion, as they are ‘brought back to life’ through our digital displays. These exciting and interactive displays will provide visitors with a more in-depth understanding of Burrell’s passion for art and collecting as well as his business and family life.
Portrait of Sir William Burrell, about 1925
About the Collection
A staggering 9,000 objects form The Burrell Collection. Highlights include one of the most significant holdings of Chinese art in the UK, medieval treasures including stained glass, arms and armour and over 200 tapestries which rank amongst the finest in the world, and paintings by renowned French artists including Manet, Cezanne and Degas.
According to the Burrells’ specific wishes, it was to be housed where people could appreciate the art in a countryside setting. After many years of searching for a suitable site, the opening of the museum in Pollok Country Park in 1983 was received with much critical and public acclaim.
This magnificent collection in its purpose-built home surrounded by beautiful parkland, is ranked amongst the most significant civic museum collections in the UK, comparable to the National Gallery and the V&A in London.
The significance of the opening in 1983 cannot be over-estimated: it sparked the regeneration of Glasgow as a major cultural city, following decades of post-industrial decline. In its first year of opening, the museum attracted more than one million visits.
When The Burrell reopens next year, it will once again rejuvenate the City of Glasgow, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the city economy.
Top 30 Collection Highlights
The Collection is one of the greatest ever accumulated by one person consisting of 9,000 objects.
Exquisite works by major artists including Rodin, Degas and Cézanne and important examples of medieval European art, Chinese and Islamic art, and amazing objects from ancient civilizations will feature in The Burrell's innovative galleries and displays.
The Burrell team have pulled together their top picks to look forward to when the museum reopens.
About Glasgow Life
About Glasgow Life
The Burrell Collection is one of a group of museums managed by registered charity, Glasgow Life, on behalf of Glasgow City Council. The other museums include Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Riverside Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) and the People's Palace.
Glasgow Life also manages a wide range of other venues and services on behalf of the Council. Visit the Glasgow Life website to find out more.