Former Director of Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries

Born : November 16, 1930;

Died : June 29, 2019

ALASDAIR Auld, who has died aged 88, was a former Director of Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries.

He was born in Edinburgh in 1930 but the family moved to Glasgow when he was four. Early schooling was in Elsrickle near Biggar and at Craigie Primary School in Perth, with secondary education at Shawlands Academy in the southside of Glasgow. He was subsequently accepted to Glasgow School of Art where he received his Diploma in Drawing and Painting, prior to his undertaking National Service with the Signals Corps in North Africa. After a course of teacher training at Jordanhill College, he taught art briefly at Shawlands Academy before joining Glasgow Museums in 1956 as Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings and Art Objects, a post based at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and starting a career of over 30 years within the art and museum world. Although based during his early years at Kelvingrove, promotion to curator of prints and drawings saw him move office to Glasgow’s newly acquired Pollok House, subsequently returning to Kelvingrove as keeper of fine art.

He was promoted to Depute Director in 1976 and finally Director in 1979, a post he held until his retirement in 1988. As Director of Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries, he co-ordinated the final phases of the Burrell Collection, culminating with the opening in 1983, and was in the party showing the Queen and Prince Philip around the new museum.

Alasdair was never a radical but was happy to tell of his time as a student at Glasgow School of Art when he joined a protest march against Kelvingrove’s proposed purchase of “Christ of St John on the Cross” by Salvador Dali, instead of multiple works by worthy Scottish artists. Alasdair appeared on The One Show a few years ago discussing the painting, when he did have to confess that it has always been one of Glasgow’s most popular works with visitors.

His leisure pursuits were many and varied. Whereas in the 1950s he had spent much of his free time playing tennis at Hillpark Tennis Club, Glasgow with his wife, Mary, he gradually changed his allegiance to the golf course, playing first at Eastwood and then at Pollok for over 40 years, where as a consistent mid-teens handicapper he continued to play until only a few years ago. He also now had more time to travel and was delighted to make it to all the continents, including Antarctica and a trip to Australia (he had visited New Zealand in 1976, personally accompanying Kelvingrove’s delightful Van Gogh painting “Le Moulin de la Galette” to Auckland for a widely anticipated exhibition of this artist’s works). He also managed a brief visit in 2010 to Benghazi where he had spent his military service, arriving this time on a small cruise ship, a mode of travel that allowed Alasdair and Mary to enjoy more such adventurous holidays well into their eighties. Any remaining free time was spent with his family or renewing his early interest in drawing and painting.

Officially, his ties with the Glasgow art and museum world might well have ceased on his retirement in 1988, however this was not the case. He was involved in many varied cultural activities and committees over the years, such as The David Livingstone Trust, The National Playing Fields Association and The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and was Honorary President of the Glasgow Antiques and Fine Art Society since its inception.

These associations and interests kept him very busy and active after leaving Kelvingrove and he was also a frequent and popular guest speaker at numerous organisations where he was often invited to provide a glimpse into the world of art, a subject matter quite different from their usual lectures and meetings.

Alasdair Auld was an influential representative for art in many of its guises throughout Glasgow and beyond, yet the main memory of most is that he was a lovely man – polite, helpful, good natured, and laid back. He will be sorely missed by his family, many friends and former colleagues.

Alasdair is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Margaret, son Kenneth, daughter-in-law Caryn and grandchildren David and Megan.

Margaret Auld

An Appreciation:

Alastair became president of Glasgow Antiques and Fine Arts Society in the 1970s. It is possible that he was prsident from 1973, the year it was founded. When asked, he would shake his head wryly and say he couldn’t remember but that it was possibly in Jurassic times.

He was highly respected and much loved, witty and charming, kind and thoughtful and encouraging to everyone.

He was a loyal and regular attender of our lectures, always giving eloquent and amusing votes of thanks, deligthing in meeting the speakers beforehand.

Our society has been truly blessed in having had such an engaging and delightful president for so many years. He has left an enduring legacy of a lifetime promoting art. he was a wonderful ambassador for the Glasgow Antiques and Fine Arts Society.

Alan MacDonald