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The Conservation of Art Nouveau Interiors Conference 2016

I’ve just come back from a trip to Glasgow where I participated in the Réseau Art Nouveau Network conference about The Conservation of Art Nouveau Interiors.

House for an Art Lover -Dining room

House for an Art Lover – Dining room interior by C.R. Mackintosh

For those of you who don’t know, the Réseau Art Nouveau Network (RANN) is a large group of institutions from various European cities with a rich Art Nouveau heritage who in 1999 decided to form a European network. Research, conservation, and proper exposure are the key objectives of their programme, as well as a scientific approach. RANN aims to keep professionals informed and make the general public aware of the cultural significance and European dimension of this heritage on our very own doorstep.

Since 2013, RANN is also open for individual members, or RANN Friends. More information about becoming a member can be found here, and here.

House for an Art Lover - Music room

House for an Art Lover – Music room interior by C.R. Mackintosh

Unfortunately, my flight arrived too late to join the first meetings at The Lighthouse, but I’m sure we will be hearing more about these interesting projects soon.

  • World Atlas of Art Nouveau – by Christian Schwarzer
  • Art Nouveau Schools – by David A. Hill
Glasgow School of Art on Fire 23 May 2014

Glasgow School of Art on Fire 23 May 2014

I did manage to be in time for the seminar at the Glasgow School of Art The Mackintosh Library – Reflections, Recovery, Restoration and Research. Keynote speakers were

  • Christopher Platt (Head and Professor of Architecture at the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art and director at studioKAP Architects)
  • Sarah MacKinnon (Project Manager of the Mackintosh Restoration Project)
  • Polly Christie (The Archives & Collections Recovery Lead)
  • Robyne Calvert (Mackintosh Research Fellow, charged with fostering innovative research projects arising from the reconstruction of the Mackintosh building)

These experts, who are involved in the restoration project on a daily basis, sketched us a picture of the current situation at the Mackintosh Library. What have we done so far? What do we know? What have we discovered? And where are we going from here?

In summary, what they have done since the fire on 23 May 2014, is this: install a temporary roof over the building, clear the building, make records of everything that was cleared, and where it was cleared. Investigate what was damaged, and what is still intact. Find out what is missing, and whether there are original replacements available anywhere in the world. Decide what can be restored, and what should not. And so on…

Glasgow School of Art in Scaffolding

Glasgow School of Art in Scaffolding

Most interesting to me was the fact that the fire and the subsequent devastation of the Mackintosh Library have revealed unknown details about the construction of the building; and about alterations that took place over the past 100 years (after all, the building has always been used as a school, and has not been very carefully preserved in the sense of a museum object), the original colours, types of wood and sorts of metal used, etcetera. Details that we would never have known, if it weren’t for the fire!

Glasgow School of Art Library

GSA Library before the fire – Courtesy of Glasgow School of Art

Current plan is to have the Library reconstructed by 7 June 2018, the 150th birthday of Charles Rennie Mackintosh! And with all the meticulous research being done, that Library will be much closer to the original Mackintosh design than it was in the years before the fire.

After that most interesting seminar, all RANN members and friends had dinner together at Glasgow’s oldest restaurant Sloans, which is located in a Grade A listed building. And because most of us already knew each other from previous RANN meetings, we had a wonderful evening!

Read more
Art Nouveau European Route
Charles Rennie Mackintosh – wikipage
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society
Glasgow School of Art – photographic tour
Glasgow School of Art – wikipage
Hillhouse, Helensburgh
House for an Art Lover
The Conservation of Historic Interiors- Glasgow, Scotland and Europe
Reseau Art Nouveau Network
Willow Tea Rooms