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Preserving and showcasing architectural heritage

From July 2014 to January 2015, The University of Glasgow Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery presented the exhibition, Mackintosh Architecture, which celebrated the work of the internationally renowned Scottish architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.


It showcased the results of Professor Pamela Robertson’s AHRC funded project, ‘Mackintosh Architecture – Context, Making and Meaning’, delivering the first authoritative survey of Mackintosh’s architecture. The exhibition brought together over 80 architectural drawings, specially commissioned films and models as well as archival material and related designs. Visitors to the exhibition in Glasgow and its London showing at the RIBA (March 2015 to May 2015) totalled nearly 50,000. The showings received widespread coverage and reviews across all formats of the media receiving a four star review in the Scotsman. The Guardian commented of the London exhibition, “a brilliant show that… exposes the raw talent of Mackintosh the architect, through the original drawings of his buildings alone”.

Mackintosh Architecture exhibition. The Hunterian, University of Glasgow 2015.

Research data helps in restoration

The research data was of immediate help in the aftermath of the devastating fire in May 2014 which had seriously damaged what is widely considered to be the architect’s masterpiece, the Mackintosh Building of the Glasgow School of Art. Subsequent efforts at restoration have drawn considerably on the resources and expertise made easily available through the project. Ranald MacInnes of Historic Scotland commented “The project has amassed a huge amount of Drawings and information about Mackintosh’s working methods, but also about the detailing of his buildings. After the recent tragic events at the School of Art… we were able immediately to interrogate these drawings on site and it will help immensely to plot the progress of the restoration project going forward.”

Adding to the ongoing impact of the original project, the project has supported research and conservation at the Glasgow Art Club, The Hill House and The Willow Tea Rooms. It also provided illustrations and text for 32 buildings of architectural interest to deliver the ‘Sauchiehall Street: online walking tour’ and the basis for the exhibition ‘Making the Willow Tea Rooms’ which was seen by 11,650 visitors. In July 2014 an online resource was launched providing a rich illustrated catalogue of Mackintosh architectural projects and drawings containing over 3000 images, 250 biographies and an interactive map. This innovative research project and its accompanying events have reintroduced Mackintosh’s achievements as an architect and provided a new focus on Glasgow’s historic position as one of the UK’s leading Victorian cities.

This case study was featured within the AHRC 2014/15 impact report. (PDF, 7.7MB)

For more information on the project visit: Mackintosh Architecture: Context, Making and Meaning

Gateway to Research Project Link: Mackintosh Architecture: Context, Making and Meaning (May 10 - Dec 14)

Written by: Jordan Lips