IT is the world renowned collection of art and historic artefacts in Scotland that was once banned from leaving Great Britain.

But now it has emerged that over a million people have enjoyed the touring exhibition of The Burrell Collection nationally and internationally over the past three years while its home in Glasgow was being refurbished.

The international element of the roving exhibition, along with one-off loans of objects were sanctioned after a controversial act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2014 allowing the collection to tour internationally.

It was originally against the wishes of Sir William Burrell, who left his collection of paintings, sculptures, textiles and antiquities to Glasgow in 1944. A shipping magnate, he was aware of the dangers of international freight and forbade his treasures to be sent overseas.

READ MORE: Burrell Collection set to get additional £1million investment in refurbishment plan

The Burrell Collection (Lending and Borrowing) Bill Committee had "not fully convinced" by Glasgow's claim that the tour would generate a £15 million contribution to the refurbishment of the building.

The law change permitted the planned world tour to raise funds for the collection’s A-listed building in Pollok Park that has been closed since late 2016 for a revamp which will expand display space and improve visitor facilities. It has been confirmed that so far 1.3 million people have visited exhibitions featuring works collected by Sir William Burrell in venues that range from Tokyo to London.


The total number of visitors who have enjoyed objects from The Burrell Collection rises to over four million by including single loans of objects to museums which were not in temporary exhibitions when counting venue visits.

The tour which began in 2016, has seen parts of the collection going overseas for the first time since it was given to Glasgow. It is due to conclude next year before The Burrell Collection opens again to the public in the spring of 2021.

Nearly 30 venues around the world will have hosted art from The Burrell Collection by the time the museum re-opens to the public.

Included are loans to New York’s Metropolitan Museum and the Musée de Cluny in Paris. It emerged last week that a further £1 million was to be invested in the Burrell Collection’s Renaissance project as part of its refurbishment.

Glasgow City Council agreed to spend £1,589,150 on an audio visual display, at the museum in Pollok Country Park, including a video wall and projection, touchscreens, tablets and computers.

The £66m budget for the Burrell Renaissance Project was approved in February 2017 by the council’s then executive committee. This included £15 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Among the venues which hosted objects from The Burrell Collection are The British Museum which borrowed Rodin’s The Thinker and The National Gallery in London which displayed 22 works as part of Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam also took 25 paintings and works on paper and a stained glass object which made up more than half of an exhibition of the work of Matthijs Maris.

READ MORE: Architect of Burrell Collection museum expresses concerns over £66m revamp

The Princess Royal and her husband were among the visitors to The Burrell Collection: A Voyage to Impressionism when it reached Shizuoka in Japan as part of a five venue tour of 80 paintings which will finish in early 2020. T Sir Angus Grossart, chairman of The Burrell Renaissance said: “The extraordinary quality of The Burrell Collection has long deserved wider international recognition and The Burrell Renaissance seeks to achieve that by showing some of these magnificent treasures. When it re-opens in spring 2021, The Burrell Collection will bring international audiences to appreciate Sir William’s exceptional legacy.”

The refurbishment of the Burrell Collection building and redisplay of objects will allow visitors, for the first time, to explore all three floors which will be dedicated to galleries, visible stores and special exhibitions.


It will see the museum’s gallery space increase by 35% and public space increase by 83%, allowing important and unique objects from Burrell’s Collection which have not been seen for decades or have never been on permanent display to go on show for visitors to enjoy.

Dr Bridget McConnell, chief executive of Glasgow Life said: “There has been a huge appetite from museum visitors to enjoy artworks from The Burrell Collection wherever they have been on display.

"Without the ability to make these loans overseas, some of the displays and exhibitions simply wouldn’t have been possible. We are looking forward to more people learning about the wonders of The Burrell Collection through the final loan dates as we continue to work towards delivering a museum ready to welcome visitors from around the world.”

Sir William, who lived from 1861-1958, collected almost 9,000 items reflecting his passion for art and history.