The Burrell Collection, located in Pollok Country Park in Glasgow, is home to the incredible decorative arts collection of Sir William Burrell. Hosting 9,000 objects, including archaeological relics, painting, jewellery and stained-glass windows from Europe and Asia, this vast collection of decorative arts was donated to the city of Glasgow in 1944.
The museum, which opened in 1983, is housed in a Grade I listed timber building with large windows to showcase the views of surrounding woodland. The original building featured minimal artificial lighting, instead using the large amounts of daylight coming in as its main source.
After reopening in 2022 following a renovation and redesign, The Burrell Collection has been named the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023, a prestigious award which comes with a £120,000 prize. Since reopening, the Burrell Collection has welcomed over 500,000 visitors and contributed an economic impact of £20m for Glasgow in its first six months.
This renovation was led by exhibition designers Event Communications, who sensitively designed innovative digital displays which offer new ways of understanding the art and objects in the museum’s new lighting scheme. DHA Designs were directly appointed to create the lighting design for the museum, beginning work in 2016 before commissioning the scheme in 2022.
The challenge of the lighting design was to create a sequence of twenty galleries, showcasing star objects in the collection and bringing the lighting up to date without losing the wonderful natural daylight feel that was originally utilised.
The building itself is much-loved and one of the star objects of the museum, therefore the lighting needed to be sympathetic to its grade listing and traditional features while also becoming suitable for a 21st century audience.
DHA worked very closely through mock-ups and sampling to ensure that both the magic of the building was retained, and that the visitor experience was enhanced, through delicate, considered and beautiful lighting. DHA installed and focused 800 track spotlights themselves to ensure a consistency of illumination throughout this unique space.
David Robertson, Director of DHA Designs, said:
“As a child in the 1980s I was taken to the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, and I remember very clearly the impact the museum had on me. It was so different to traditional Victorian buildings due to the effect of the natural daylight. When we were appointed for this project I was incredibly delighted to work on this extraordinary museum, and I am so proud that the renovation has led to the museum winning such a renowned award.”