Charles Rennie Mackintosh project funding boost

31 May 2018

The project to conserve, restore and redisplay a complete Charles Rennie Mackintosh tearoom interior in V&A Dundee has received a major funding boost, thanks to Art Fund and the Scottish Government.

V&A Dundee and Dundee City Council are working in partnership with Glasgow Museums, which rescued the Oak Room interior from destruction in 1971 and took the disassembled interior into Glasgow City Council’s museum collections.

The project will preserve this historic lost interior for generations to come, having last been used as a tearoom in the early 1950s.

Support of £200,000 from Art Fund and £100,000 from the Scottish Government has contributed to the fundraising for the £1.3 million project which has also been generously supported by the National Lottery in its first research phase and through a range of other individual gifts.

Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee, said: “The project to conserve and restore an entire interior by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, unseen for nearly 50 years, has been one of the most exciting parts of creating V&A Dundee.

“As a designer, architect and artist, Mackintosh is of worldwide significance. He has been an inspiration to very many designers from the moment his work was first seen through to today, including the architect of V&A Dundee, Kengo Kuma.

“When we set about developing galleries for the new museum telling the story of Scotland’s design history, it was vital Mackintosh was represented in a major way. Now, with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Art Fund, the Scottish Government and others that has been made possible.”

The Oak Room conservation project received an initial grant of £400,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, given on behalf of players of the National Lottery. This allowed the full extent of the required work to be established, including a full reconstruction of the remaining parts of the room.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, said: “While Art Fund has helped in the combined acquisition and conservation of a number of works in our 115-year history, this marks the first instance of us specifically funding a major conservation project in its own right.

“The Oak Room is one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s greatest achievements – his vision is reflected in every piece and detail of this spectacular interior – and Art Fund is thrilled to be able to support its conservation as it is painstakingly reconstructed, ready to go on display for the first time since the 1970s. We are certain it will be the star attraction of the new V&A Dundee and enjoyed by visitors from across Scotland and beyond.’

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of Scotland’s greatest artists who has inspired and moved so many across the world with his work. The Scottish Government is pleased to be supporting the Oak Room conservation as a central part of the new V&A Dundee, so that the public can admire once again this famous piece of Mackintosh's work."

Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor David McDonald, said: “The Oak Room at V&A Dundee is a fantastic example of joint working and we are thrilled that we can bring back this lost gem for public display in the year of Mackintosh’s 150th anniversary. Mackintosh designed it for his most important patron, Miss Cranston, for her famous Ingram Street tea rooms in Glasgow and it has now been restored in all its original glory.

“The room consists of hundreds of individual wooden and stained-glass parts and uncovers Mackintosh’s ingenuity for creatively arranging interior spaces into complete works of art. We look forward to this exciting collaborative project being enjoyed by audiences near and far.”

The Oak Room was the largest Charles Rennie Mackintosh interior for Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms in Glasgow. The 13.5 metre-long, double-height room, designed by Mackintosh in 1907 and completed in 1908, is acknowledged as one of his key works, informing his design ideas for the Glasgow School of Art Library, which was completed a year later in 1909.

When the tearooms were removed from their original Ingram Street premises each room was numbered, each wall given a reference, and each piece of panelling coded. Plans and elevations of the rooms were drawn to show how everything fitted together.

Between 2004-5, with the help of this information, Glasgow Museums quantified and documented all surviving Oak Room panelling. This earlier developmental stage, funded by the Scottish Government, helped inform the work now taking place to recreate this breath-taking interior, lost to public view for generations.

The Oak Room will be displayed at the heart of V&A Dundee’s Scottish Design Galleries, a permanent display which will showcase the significance and relevance of design with a particular focus on Scottish achievement.

The new museum will bring touring exhibitions from the V&A and other international museums to Scotland, as well as curating its own exhibitions in future years.

Next Thursday 7 June is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

V&A Dundee opens on Saturday 15 September this year, when Mackintosh’s Oak Room will be revealed.

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