An Update on the Archives and Collections

The Mackintosh BuildingSix months on from the Mackintosh Building fire, The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections team are now able to provide more detailed information about how this event has affected the School’s extensive archives and collections.

Our holdings, which comprise a wide range of material from the GSA’s institutional archive, artworks and architectural drawings, textiles, plasters casts, photographs and furniture, did suffer some loss and damage as previously reported. However since the 23rd May we have worked to assess and stabilise the collections, put in place conservation plans, and started our thinking for the collections’ future, securing its role as a key learning and research resource for the GSA, academics worldwide and the wider public.

We can confirm that the majority of our paper archives and artworks on paper, including 100 works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, were unharmed by the fire. A small percentage of the paper archives suffered water damage, but these items have either been air dried or frozen and are now stabilised.

Our textile collections suffered some water damage. However, items have now been air dried, stabilised and conservation work, where appropriate, will commence in due course.

The GSA’s large collection of plaster casts has also survived, although many pieces have suffered smoke and water damage. Plans are now being developed to conserve and restore these pieces.

Items from our Mackintosh furniture collection which were in use in the Mackintosh Library or held in the store above this space were either destroyed or very badly damaged by the fire. Fragments of furniture and fittings are already being recovered from the Mackintosh Library as part of the forensic archaeology work currently underway (click here to watch a clip of GSA’s Academic Liaison Librarian Duncan Chappell talk about this). Many of our most important pieces were on display in the Furniture Gallery and Mackintosh Room in the east wing of the building and were therefore unaffected by the fire. In the early part of 2015 some of these pieces will be brought out of storage and returned to public view. We’ll have more details about this in the new year.

Almost all the oil paintings on canvas in the School’s collection were stored above the Library and were therefore also sadly destroyed.

All of the surviving material is now stable and secure. It will be reviewed by expert conservators as part of a recovery programme which will take place over the next three years.

Partage Plus – Digitising and enabling Art Nouveau for Europeana

partage-plus-logoPartage Plus, starting in March 2012 and lasting for 2 years, will digitise Art Nouveau objects, artworks, posters, and buildings to create c75,000 items, including 2,000 3D models, of content for access through Europeana, a single access point to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitised throughout Europe

The Art Nouveau style was a great success all over Europe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It is well represented, in almost every art form, in museum collections, archives, libraries, photographic archives, and on buildings throughout Europe. After a short period of disinterest, with the arrival of modernist styles, it seems that Art Nouveau is now even more popular than ever.

The amount of content to be available on Partage Plus represents a significant increase in the quantity of Art Nouveau content available on the Web. Within the scope of Partage Plus grand masterpieces of the Art Nouveau period as well as outstanding examples from the collections of the collaborating institutions will be made accessible to users. The Partage Plus website will act as the hub for meeting users’ needs and provide users with the opportunity to gather information about the Art Nouveau style; experience Art Nouveau works online through Europeana; and visit institutions with Art Nouveau collections.

Argyle High Back Chair, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for 120 Mains Street, Glasgow and also for the Luncheon Room, Argyle Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, 1897

Argyle High Back Chair, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for 120 Mains Street, Glasgow and also for the Luncheon Room, Argyle Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, 1897

Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh collection is soon to form part of the Partage Plus online catalogue. Photographers will be visiting us in October to take 3D images of the Mackintosh furniture collection, and other items from the collection, such as architectural drawings and artwork, may be available sooner than that.

The Partage Plus blog is a brilliant resource for Art Nouveau researchers and admirers, and just in the last few days, Charles Rennie Mackintosh has been the subject of two articles: one about the Glasgow School of Art, and another about House for an Art Lover.

For more information, visit the Partage Plus website.

Front cover of folio of House for an Art Lover designs, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901

Front cover of folio of House for an Art Lover designs, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901

Conservator at work in the Mack

Mackintosh LibraryFurniture conservator Sarah Gerrish spent yesterday in the Mackintosh Library tidying up the timber surfaces. She’s toned down all the visible scratches and marks to the dark surfaces on the lower level (including the skirting boards, cupboard locks and some of the more obvious marks to the table tops) and given some of the cupboard doors exposed to the light and window bays a good coating of wax. All in all, a great improvement. This is something that we hope to repeat once a year just to keep on top of things. Today, Sarah’s going to do the same thing to the timber on the main staircase in the Mack and freshen up the three wooden benches in the foyer too.

Here’s a video from our Vimeo site of Sarah speaking about work she did in the Mackintosh Building during the Mackintosh Conservation and Access Project a few years ago.