Scottish museums help salvage Glasgow School of Art’s collections

Part of building structure and some contents lost in fire
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Gareth Harris
The Scottish museum and heritage sector is rallying to help save the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) which was badly damaged in a fire last week, with Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) coordinating support offered by museums and galleries across the country.

The blaze broke out in the basement of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Arts and Crafts building around noon on 23 May. The school’s library, part of the west wing extension built between 1907 and 1909, was destroyed.

“MGS is committed to providing co-ordination and support for the [school] collections in the medium and long-term,” said an MGS spokesman.

“Members of our team have been on site liaising with the Glasgow School of Art, Historic Scotland, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, the National Records of Scotland, the Scottish government and other organisations involved in this process.”

MGS will also make available discretionary funds.

“We have offered support and expertise and are providing materials (e.g. tissue paper, storage boxes, etc.),” said David Gaimster, the director of the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum. “More widely, colleagues in the University of Glasgow’s Textile Conservation Centre and our archives department have been involved in the salvage operation.”

The Scottish government has pledged up to £5m in match funding for the GSA’s Mackintosh Building Fire Appeal. “This funding will be in addition to any longer-term funding requirements for building recovery and restoration,” said a government statement.

Thirty five specialist conservation staff from Historic Scotland have been deployed to the site. Muriel Gray, the chairman of the school’s board of governors, says that the school intends to rebuild the library.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said that 90% of the building structure and 70% of the contents, including students’ work, have been saved.

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