Shipping magnate Sir William Burrell (1861–1958) was rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams and far keener on collecting fine art than most too.
The result was one of the world’s largest solo collections – around 9,000 items from a truly eclectic range of eras and cultures: from stained glass and medieval tapestries; to Middle Eastern antiquities; to Chinese ceramics; and even the occasional Old Master: Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait (1632) and Frans Hals’ Portrait of a Gentleman (1639) among them.
In 1944 it all ended up in the city of Glasgow’s hands who built a bright, bold building to house the collection in an attractive parkland on the city’s outskirts.
Free and enthusiastically-led guided tours explore the museum frequently making for small group sizes and real insights into aspects of many pieces you would otherwise miss.
Meanwhile the surrounding Pollock Park is an attraction in itself; it’s large enough to have marked hiking and mountain bike routes as well as a big playground and picnic area.
Also in the grounds is Pollock House, a fine 18th-century pile which surprisingly has Britain’s most extensive collection of fine Spanish paintings; displayed amid lavish period plasterwork, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper and porcelain, and the family silver. An odd but intriguing combination.
The cafe in the Burrell Collection building is a good one.