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Jan Patience: Refurbished Burrell Collection has got its mojo back

Portrait of Edmond Duranty, by Edgar Degas
Portrait of Edmond Duranty, by Edgar Degas

It’s been two months since Glasgow’s Burrell Collection reopened after a £68.25 million refurbishment.

This eclectic museum featuring highlights from shipping magnate William Burrell’s collection of more than 9,000 artefacts had been shut since October 2016.

In 1984, over a million visitors admired The Burrell’s artistic splendours. By 2015, this figure had dwindled to 150,000 visitors a year to the Grade A-listed building. The roof leaked and swathes of the building were not fit for purpose.

If ever an old favourite needed TLC, it was the Burrell. I was lucky enough to have a preview before it reopened and it has its mojo back. More space for exhibits, clearer displays and hugely accessible.

Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker (Pic: Sefton Samuels/Shutterstock)

But there have been gripes about a new entrance (there are three) looking like a “secondary school”, digital gimmicks galore and dumbed-down signage being “too woke”. Recently, after a meeting in its jazzy refurbished restaurant, I went for a wander. Had I missed something in my initial excitement of being back?

It was busy, but not so much you couldn’t appreciate the exhibits. The room in which much-criticised dancing flowers floated around paintings by Manet, Fantin Latour and Peploe was so packed I couldn’t see the work.

An assistant told me it’s the most popular room in the museum and that kids love it. I went in search of old favourites such as Rodin’s The Thinker, Degas’ Portrait of Edmond Duranty and the Warwick Vase, complete with 3D-printed details to touch and an explainer on how Roman Emperor Hadrian made the vase as a memorial for his male lover.

It’s all about the detail and my new favourite is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 16th Century stained glass coat of arms with three hedgehogs. Or is it the colour-coded ceramics display? I’ll get back to you on that…


A brilliant new exhibition at Fidra Fine Art in Gullane, East Lothian, is devoted entirely to the art of drawing. The cornerstone of the show, appropriately titled Drawing, is a group of 20 drawings by Neil Dallas Brown, an artist described by gallery owner Alan Rae as “a remarkable artist, ripe for rediscovery.”

Dallas Brown, who died in 2003, taught several of the artists in this show, including Joseph Urie, Alan Connell and Nicola Carberry. Drawing is on until June 26.