Kelvingrove Museum kick starts a year of celebration as Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition opens

Kelvingrove Museum kick starts a year of celebration as Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition opens

Glasgow Museums celebrates the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh with Making the Glasgow Style - a major, new exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum!

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of Glasgow's greatest sons, the architect, designer and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum will host Charles Rennie Mackintosh Making the Glasgow Style from 30 March to 14 August 2018.

Glasgow Museums will commemorate this significant anniversary with a major new temporary exhibition spanning Mackintosh's lifetime, 1868–1928. By following a chronological narrative, Charles Rennie Mackintosh Making the Glasgow Style presents his work in context to Glasgow, key predecessors, influences and Glasgow Style contemporaries.

The dynamic and entrepreneurial creative spirit in the City in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is captured; showcasing the rich diversity of designers and artists, educators, institutions, manufacturers and industrialists then working in Glasgow and in design and technical education of that time at The Glasgow School of Art.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Making the Glasgow Style showcases the very best of Glasgow’s internationally renowned civic collections, alongside key loans from The Hunterian, The Glasgow School of Art, the V&A and a number of private lenders. Several of these works have never been on public display and the majority have not been shown in Glasgow for 30 or more years.

Councillor David McDonald, the Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “We are delighted to bring this magnificent exhibition to Kelvingrove to celebrate the incredible legacy and creative genius of Glasgow’s greatest cultural icon. Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s ground-breaking work is now synonymous with Glasgow and lauded internationally so it is only right we mark the 150th anniversary of his birth with something very special.”

“This exhibition gives Mackintosh aficionados space and time to enjoy a wealth of stunning objects, a number of which they will never have had the opportunity to see before. It has given us an opportunity to invest in the conservation and preservation of some fantastic pieces of art and design in our civic collections and share a new presentation of the Glasgow Style story, its influence and its incredible art with a whole new generation.”


Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander added: “This much anticipated exhibition, commemorating Mackintosh’s remarkable achievements and the birth of the Glasgow Style, is a wonderful way to start the city’s Mackintosh 150 celebrations. We look forward to welcoming the people of Glasgow, together with visitors from across the UK and further afield, to join us in celebrating one of our most famous sons. We are confident audiences will be in awe of the incredible works on show.”

“Looking forward, this year of events will help cement Mackintosh’s legacy as a key asset in attracting tourists to Glasgow. His art, architecture and design are paramount in helping to grow the city’s economy by increasing overnight visits by one million over the next six years.”


Born in Glasgow on 7 June 1868, Charles Rennie Mackintosh went on to be regarded as one of the most creative figures of the 20th century and a leading figure in both the Scottish Arts & Crafts Movement and European Art Nouveau. An architect, designer and artist, Mackintosh left a legacy of magnificent work and is considered one of the principal exponents of the Glasgow Style.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Making the Glasgow Style charts Glasgow’s contribution in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a time when there was an energetic and radical outpouring of new ideas across all the arts in Europe, most notably in the fields of design and architecture. In Glasgow, this gave birth to the Glasgow Style, a distinctive variant of Art Nouveau centred on The Glasgow School of Art. At the heart of it was the work of 'The Four': Mackintosh, his future wife Margaret Macdonald, her younger sister Frances, and Frances’ future husband, James Herbert McNair.

The exhibition features more than 250 objects, which highlight the diverse spectrum of media Mackintosh and his contemporaries mastered. These include: stained glass, glass, ceramics, mosaic, metalwork, furniture, textiles, stencilling, needlework and embroidery, posters, books, interior and tearoom design, and architectural drawings.

Key highlights include a section of lathe and plaster wall with a stencilled design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms. An early example, from 1900 of his internationally renowned rose motif, this wall section was salvaged just prior to the building being gutted and repurposed into a hotel in 1971. Meticulously conserved, this stunning piece of architectural history will be on display for the first time since its removal from the former tearoom premises. This will be shown alongside a number of other decorative elements and fittings from the interiors of the Ingram Street Tearooms, again for the first time on public display; conserved especially for this show.

Other feature objects include delicate watercolours not shown in a generation, including Pinks, Grey Iris and Part Seen, Imagined Part. Unique pieces of furniture, including a high backed chair from the Ingram Street Tearooms, 1900, and a chair for the drawing and music room at Hous’hill, Nitshill, 1904. Four beautifully repoussé-lead framed symbolic watercolours by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s wife Margaret Macdonald and her sister Frances Macdonald entitled The Seasons, of 1897–98 will be shown together for the first time since the early 1980s, together with a stunning poster for The Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts designed by the Macdonald sisters and James Herbert McNair.

The exhibition is given a deeper context by the inclusion of work never before seen on public display by some of Mackintosh’s key Glasgow Style contemporaries, including a standing clock by Peter Wylie Davidson, an illustrated score cover for Wagner’s Götterdämmerung by Dorothy Carleton Smyth, and sketchbooks owned and filled by Talwin Morris. Also on show are original drawings for both the exterior and interior designs for some of his architectural masterpieces.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Making the Glasgow Style begins by exploring the Young Mackintosh’s Glasgow and his early influences. It moves on to The Shock of the New, the controversial Spook School period of the Glasgow Style and a look at Mackintosh’s early tearooms and architectural masterpieces, before looking more in depth at his work with The Four and the work of his friends and contemporaries including James Salmon Junior, Jessie Marion King and Talwin Morris. A central theme of the exhibition is the art of design and making and the work emerging from the Technical Art Studios at The Glasgow School of Art and studios and workshops around the city. Renowned for his architectural designs, his transformative use of light and his approach to the interior as a total work of art, the exhibition examines Mackintosh’s architecture and design before finishing with a look at his career away from Glasgow, the evolution of the Glasgow Style into Art Deco and his move into intricate watercolour painting towards the end of his life.

The exhibition at Kelvingrove Museum is one of the highlight events in a yearlong celebration throughout 2018 entitled Mackintosh 150. It is co-ordinated by Mackintosh heritage partners from across Glasgow and beyond and includes a programme of events at The Lighthouse and at Mackintosh Queen’s Cross, as well as the re-opening of Mackintosh at the Willow, Miss Cranston’s original tearooms in Sauchiehall Street. The Glasgow School of Art, The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow, House for An Art Lover and the new V&A Dundee will all play host to dedicated event and exhibition programmes.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Making the Glasgow Style opens at Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow on Friday 30 March and runs until Tuesday 14 August 2018. Tickets cost £7 per adult/ £5 per concession, children under 16 free. For more information visit www.glasgowmuseums.com

Last Updated: 29 March 2018 10:02

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