For architecture, design or art history buffs, Glasgow, Scotland is a required stop on any British travel itinerary. Once the second city of the British Empire, it features numerous attractions characterizing the Glasgow Style, Scotland’s contribution to Art Nouveau.
The Glasgow Style is often associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement and lent inspiration to more well-known Jugendstil artists such as Joseph Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte.
The Glasgow Style is characterized by the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four which includes Mackintosh, his wife, muse, and co-creator Margaret MacDonald; Margaret’s sister Francis, as well as her architect and designer husband Herbert MacNair. Mackintosh is most easily recognized for his stylized rose design in pinks and purples.
There are twelve attractions directly associated with Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four within greater Glasgow, all of which are accessible via public transportation. Here is a selection of the must-see Mackintosh attractions in Glasgow:
- The Lighthouse was originally home to the Glaswegian daily newspaper, The Herald, and was Mackintosh’s first public commission. Today it serves as Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design and the City. It also houses the ‘Mack’ Centre, a heritage and interpretation centre providing excellent introduction to the life and work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Be sure not to miss the stunning views of the city from the Mackintosh tower.
- The Willow Tea Rooms is the original site of Mackintosh’s Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street in the city centre. It showcases recreated Mackintosh designed interiors and is a great place to stop for afternoon tea on the way to the next attraction in the city centre.
- The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses the Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Glasgow Style Gallery. The gallery displays numerous objects and installations outlining the preferred media and techniques employed by Mackintosh and others working in the Glasgow Style. Admission is free and there are wonderful activities for children.
- The Glasgow School of Art remains to this day a working art school. In an open architectural competition 1896 for a new school, the original design came from then junior architectural draftsman Mackintosh. The GSA Mackintosh building features his original interiors and furnishings. Guided tours (included with admission) take place hourly and can only accommodate limited numbers of visitors, so get there early. It is a short walk from the Willow Tea Rooms.
- The Mackintosh Church is now home of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. It is said to be the only church in the world designed by architect and artist to be built. While retaining some Gothic touches, Mackintosh’s design is particularly noticeable through the floral motifs and window tracery.
- The Mackintosh House is a reconstruction of the home Mackintosh shared with his wife from 1906 to 1914 featuring its original furnishings. It is now a part of the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery and is an 8-minute walk from the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
- The Scotland Street School was Mackintosh’s last major commission in Glasgow and displays the ingenuity of a fully developed architect. The school also offers an interesting look at the developments in education in Scotland over the last century.
- House for an Art Lover is situated in beautiful Bellahouston Park in south Glasgow and is the modern interpretation of a design Mackintosh submitted to a competition for a German design magazine in 1901. In the 1990s the design was realized in collaboration with a local engineer, the city council, local artists and crafts people; and appropriately the Glasgow School of Art. Admission includes a free audio guide. Don’t forget to have a look around the Victorian Gardens and the Art Garden adjacent to the house.
The Mackintosh Trail Ticket
The Charles Rennie Macintosh Society and the local transit authority, SPT, now offer the most inexpensive and convenient way to enjoy the legacy and beauty of Art Nouveau Glasgow. The Mackintosh Trail Ticket, available for £12, covers the price of admission to all twelve Mackintosh attractions in greater Glasgow and unlimited travel on all buses and subways for one day. Visit the website to buy your tickets in advance or stop into either a Glasgow Tourist Information Centre or a SPT Travel Centre and save yourself the postage charges.
Getting Around Art Nouveau Glasgow
Realistically, it is nearly impossible to see all the attractions in a single day (unless you go by car and spend only spend five minutes in each attraction, of course). With so many great attractions to see, plan your Mackintosh day around the attractions you want to see, attractions located in the same area and the quickest mode of transportation (which is often walking). If you are really an art lover and you want to spend time at every attraction, consider buying a ticket for two days.
For planning resources, visit the CRM Society website and use their interactive map, itinerary planner and travel tips to help you get the most of your day. Traveline Scotland’s Journey Planner is also a helpful resource. For any public transit questions, speak to any Travel Centre agent at the Buchanan Street Bus Station or at the St Enoch Subway Station.
Start early in the day in the city centre on foot and then using public transport to get to those attractions in outlying areas. Keep in mind that many attractions close around 5pm. With the amount of walking involved and the unpredictability of Scottish weather, sensible footwear and raingear are essential. With all this under your hat, you’re ready to enjoy Scotland’s legacy in Art Nouveau on the trail of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style.
Photo of stained glass window, Glasgow, Scotland originally posted by ahisgett