Museum building combines modern form, ancient detailing
One of the extraordinary collecting feats performed by Burrell was the purchase of a large number of Gothic and early Renaissance architectural items in stone or wood - mainly portals and window-openings. They came from Randolph Hearst's collection. Most of them are strikingly incorporated as permanent features in the structure of the Burrell museum, an award-winning building designed by architect Barry Gasson.
Prominent is a late 12th-century French portal. With characteristic glee, Burrell got a bargain. He bought it for (STR)550 (about $825 today). It had cost Hearst (STR)4,500 ($6,750).
The new building would have pleased Burrell for a number of reasons (but not its enormous cost). It is distinctly modern, and brings external nature and internal art into happy proximity. The museum has the feel of a large house, and the core of the display is rooms, rather than galleries.
Also there are three reconstructed rooms from his actual house, Hutton Castle in Berwickshire, which once overflowed with his treasures and where he lived as a cultured country gentleman.
An excellent new illustrated guide to the Burrell collection is to be published in October ((STR)4.95 - equal to about $7.50), and also a fascinating biography of Burrell by Richard Marks ((STR)12.95 - about $19.50 - hardback, (STR)6.95 or about $10.50 paperback).