The Burrell Collection is open again and staff share their favourite treasures

After five years and a significant revamp the much-loved Burrell Collection has reopened, displaying one of Scotland’s finest art collections to the world.

The museum in Pollok Country Park, Glasgow is home to a vast collection of more than 9000 objects, gifted to the city of Glasgow in 1944, by shipping magnate Sir William Burrell.

The team that worked on the £68 million Burrell refurbishment brought together significant collections expertise from Glasgow Life Museums, building project skills from Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council, with contractors who have worked on projects nationally and internationally.

Some have been working on this project since before The Burrell Collection closed to the public in 2015, reimagining the displays, discovering more about the works and preparing to improve and enhance the building in every way.

Work on the reopening included planning the new interpretation and new display methods, including over 90 digital displays to support a greater understanding of the Collection.

Here, staff at The Burrell share their favourite objects which you can see in our gallery below.

Noorah al Gailani, Curator of Islamic Civilisations – The Wagner Garden Carpet

Noorah al Gailani, Curator of Islamic Civilisations

The Wagner Garden Carpet is one of only three early surviving Persian garden carpets in the world. The carpet was last seen on show in 2018 when it went on a three-stop tour to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, and to the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.

“I often imagine sitting in the middle of the carpet, not something I’d actually be allowed to do, immersed in the natural world it depicts and experiencing its unique design feature – a panoramic view of its trees surrounding me from all sides. Halfway up the carpet, the trees, animals and birds start to gradually change their orientation from standing along the edge of the waterways to being parallel to them. It is simply a clever attempt at creating a panorama on a flat horizontal surface. It’s certain to provide one of several wow moments for visitors.”

Wendy Meyer, Assistant Museum Manager at The Burrell Collection

Wendy Meyer, Assistant Museum Manager at The Burrell Collection – Fragment from the ‘Temple Pyx’

Once believed to be part of a ‘pyx’, a type of religious container, this unique piece is now thought to have formed part of a book cover or shrine and was possibly manufactured in Germany or England.

“Questions still surround its function and this appeals to me as my background is in jewellery manufacture and decorative metalwork and I am fascinated by the intricate work of the makers in this piece.”

Dr Joanna Meacock, Curator of British Art

Dr Joanna Meacock, Curator of British Art – Painting by William Hogarth, Mrs Ann Lloyd

“You can see Hogarth painted a fake frame and brick wall around Ann – all a bit of visual fun. But when it came to capturing a likeness Hogarth didn’t mess around or try to deceive the viewer. This painting is one of my favourites because it is a portrait of a real woman, full of warmth and character, not a fanciful idea of what a woman should look like as you see in other portraits of the time.”

David Scott, Digital Manager, The Burrell Collection

David Scott, Digital Manager – The Hickman Chalice dated 1608

“I chose this object because I find it fascinating that in the hands of a skilled craftsperson, a simple tool like a lathe can produce a huge variety of different objects. We have developed a digital ‘lathe’ as one of more than 90 innovative digital experiences in the new museum, designed to help visitors get a feel for how the objects on display were made. It lets visitors try and model some of the cuts, forms and finished objects found in this display, offering new perspectives and connections with these fascinating objects.”

Maria Cordero, Digital Content Support Assistant

Maria Cordero, Digital Content Support Assistant – Self-Portrait, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1632

This is one of about 80 self-portraits that Rembrandt completed throughout his life. From his appearance here, you wouldn’t have been able to tell that he was an artist; his formal clothes might lead you to believe he was part of the wealthy elite.

“I chose to highlight this painting because it has the potential to be really engaging for our younger visitors. For children, it can be interesting to think about how paintings were the only way to capture someone’s likeness, and how usually only the wealthy could afford them. But here, we’ve got someone who not only painted himself, but also dressed up to look wealthy and refined.”

Pippa Stephenson, Curator of European Art

Pippa Stephenson, Curator of European Art – L’Implorante, Camille Claudel Bronze sculpture, circa 1898

The Burrell Collection is the first public UK collection to acquire a work by sculptor Camille Claudel (1864-1943). L’Implorante, a touching, powerful and rare example of Claudel at her most vulnerable, is also the museum’s first acquisition in ten years and the first sculpture by a woman in the Collection.

“This is such an important piece. It is a stunning example of expressive sculpture by a key female artist who was an important role model for women sculptors at the turn of the twentieth century. I feel proud The Burrell is the first UK collection to own a piece of work by Claudel. She was such an amazing artist who deserves recognition.”

Yupin Chung, Curator of East Asian Art

Yupin Chung, Curator of East Asian Art – Figure of a Luohan Ming Dynasty, 1484, stoneware sculpture

“This is one of my favourite objects at The Burrell Collection as it is a striking, daily reminder to pause and take time to reflect as you walk around the galleries, something which always leaves me with a sense of calm. 2022 is the Chinese New Year of the Tiger. The positive qualities of the Tiger include being kind, adventurous and enthusiastic – all appropriate for the Burrell’s opening year.”

Amy Ledwith, manager of the Restaurant at The Burrell Collection

Amy Ledwith, manager of the Restaurant at The Burrell Collection – Warwick Vase, 100–200, made in Italy, restored 1770s

“This vase was originally in the garden of Emperor Hadrian’s palatial villa. Just imagine having this in your garden! We have many slightly smaller drinking cups in the restaurant and café at Burrell and offer a range of delicious drinks, including our 100% carbon neutral coffee, if you need to rest and recharge during your visit. With our new outside seating area, it is just like being in the garden. ”

Neil Johnson-Symington, Curator of Transport and Technology

Neil Johnson-Symington, Curator of Transport and Technology – Silver inkwell

Ethel Todd Shiel was private secretary to Sir William Burrell in the 1930s. For her wedding, he gifted her a silver inkwell which she treasured dearly. On her death, her son Robert Shiel gifted this back to the city for display in The Burrell Collection.

“The City of Glasgow owes Sir William Burrell and Constance, Lady Burrell’s staff a debt of gratitude, for not only keeping them fed and immaculately presented, but also for keeping the collection in good order, from cleaning and protecting objects, to painstakingly documenting every purchase and acquisition. Without them, the Burrells’ collection may not have become the world-class treasure we host in our city today.”

Laura Bauld, Project Curator

Laura Bauld, Project Curator – Silver Miniatures

Meaauring no more than 7cm in height, these tiny silver miniatures represent a variety of different forms of stylish eighteenth-century tableware and domestic utensils, made to the same proportions as their full-sized counterparts but at a much smaller scale. These miniatures were most likely used as a trinket or toy, to furnish dolls’ houses, and were popular collectors’ items for both children and adults.

“These miniatures are probably the tiniest objects in the silver collection; it really shows the skill of the silversmith, crafting the intricate details of these domestic objects at such a small scale. They are definitely worth searching out.”


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