September 27, 2018

Scottish Parliament Reviews Glasgow School of Art’s Guardianship of Mackintosh Building

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND—The Culture Committee of Holyrood, the Scottish parliament, has gathered evidence on the future of the Glasgow School of Art’s custodianship of the Mackintosh Building and its collections following the June 2018 fire. The committee received testimonies from architects and art historians, including some Glasgow School of Art alumni, that criticized the school’s management of the rebuilding process after the May 2014 fire and advocated for an independent organization to oversee the ongoing rehabilitation. Representatives from the school are expected to contribute evidence at a subsequent hearing, Libby Brooks reports for The Guardian.

The consulted experts included architects Alan Dunlop and Malcolm Fraser, architectural historian Roger Billcliffe, outspoken critics of the school following the June blaze. They pointed to “systemic failings” on the school’s behalf over the last four years and called for the GSA to be “relieved of responsibility” of the Mackintosh Building. The Culture Committees evidence gathering comes amid ongoing criticism of the Glasgow City Council’s outreach to businesses and residents affected by the fire.

In an interview, Muriel Gray, Glasgow School of Art chair, resisted the call for an independent overseer, affirming the school’s plans to rebuild the Mackintosh as its original use intends. This project would last four to seven years and cost an estimated £100 million, provided by insurance and fundraising.

Stuart Robertson, director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, noted that the rebuilding effort has negatively impacted the school’s responsibility as an institution of higher education, as the 2018 National Student Survey placed Glasgow School of Art last in student satisfaction. “Since 2014, the rebuilding of the library did detract from their core business, diverted resources, attention, and focus from what they are there to do,” Robertson said. “I don’t see how the current set-up is fit for purpose.”

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