Burrell Collection bill could be passed early next year - Museums Association

Burrell Collection bill could be passed early next year

Scottish parliament endorses overseas loans
Profile image for Rebecca Atkinson
Rebecca Atkinson
A controversial bill that will allow the Burrell Collection to go on tour could be passed early in the new year following an initial endorsement by Scottish Parliament.

Shipping magnate William Burrell, who died in 1958, gifted 9,000 artworks and historical artefacts to Glasgow but, worried that the works might be damaged in transit, imposed a strict condition that none of them be loaned overseas.

But a private bill introduced by Glasgow City Council aims to override the terms of his bequest and lift current restrictions. Scottish Parliament endorsed the bill during its first reading last week. A second reading of the bill could take place before Christmas and it is hoped will be enacted early in the new year.

The Burrell Collection (Lending and Borrowing) Bill Committee – set up to scrutinise the bill and consider what Burrell might have done if he was still alive – endorsed Glasgow City Council’s bill earlier this month.

Joan McAlpine, a member of Scottish Parliament and the convener of the committee, told MSPs that the building housing the Burrell Collection in Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park is in a poor state of repair.

As well as suffering a leaking roof, annual visitor numbers have declined steadily over the past 30 years and are now below a quarter of a million a year compared to one million when the gallery first opened in 1983.

“Glasgow City Council now plans to renovate the building, not only to address the roof problems once and for all but to create more display space to bring some of that buried treasure into public display and allow more people in Glasgow, Scotland and beyond to enjoy Burrell’s collection,” McAlpine said.

“We believe that the one-off tour planned by the bill’s promoter in association with the British Museum will help to raise the profile of not only the collection but Glasgow itself, encouraging more people to come to see the collection and—I hope—raising some money for the building’s renovation.”

Refurbishing the Pollok Park building is expected to take up to four years and cost £45m. A tour could contribute £15m towards that figure.

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland culture secretary, said the Burrell collection was “one of Scotland’s great cultural assets” and touring it would put promote Glasgow and Scotland on an international stage.

Commenting on parliament’s first reading of the bill, Archie Graham, deputy leader of Glasgow City Council and chairman of Glasgow Life, said: “We have an agreement in place which fully addresses the concerns Burrell had about sending objects abroad while recognising that that the shipping and conservation of such precious items has developed significantly in the 70 years since he made his bequest to Glasgow.”

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