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16 Oct 2018

Showing Mackintosh in a different light

Written by David Hopes, Head of Collections and Interiors (Policy)


This exhibition is different from the normal way that we work at the National Trust for Scotland because we’ve brought the collections out of their interiors and put them in an exhibition gallery which is not normally what we'd do. The reason we’ve brought this collection out is because a big box is being built around the Hill House and we needed to take some of the collections out while that box is being constructed. So fortunately we were able to use this gallery at The Lighthouse, which is in the centre of Glasgow, so it allows us to show some of our collections to hopefully an entirely new audience who wouldn’t normally come to visit our properties. And it also allows us to show the collections in a different light. Now that we’ve taken the collection out of their interiors we’ve put them against really bold graphic backgrounds which allows them to be seen differently. We also have them under gallery lighting which again shows up different aspects of the objects in terms of the architecture of the objects and the structure and the shadows that they throw which when they’re on display at the Hill House we just don’t see because they’re part of another complete interior, sort of melded together. So it does give us an opportunity to bring certain objects out and look at them more closely and to see Mackintosh’s really structural, bold, architectural style that he applied to furniture in much more detail.

Any conservation challenges with this exhibition, Suzie?

Yes, the environment in here is really different from the environment the collection is used to at the Hill House. The Hill House is quite cool and damp and the collection is quite happy in there because it’s used to it but in here it’s very warm and dry particularly at the time when we were moving, the hot weather that we’d been having. At a lot of our properties we tend to use conservation heating to maintain our environmental conditions but in here that wasn’t going to work, the heat wouldn’t improve the environment. So we had to move the collection across making sure that it was very well packaged and allow it a good week or two to acclimatise to the environment and we’ve also introduced a humidifier which isn’t something I’ve ever had to use at any of our properties before. So we’ve been monitoring the environment in here and trying to stabilise it and bring the humidity levels down a little, up a little bit sorry, and we’re just monitoring the collection now in situ, and hopefully it should be ok. We’ll do the same when we return it, package it up very well, and we’ll let it acclimatise back to the environment in the Hill House when

In summer 2018, art and furniture from Mackintosh’s Hill House were displayed for the first time in his native Glasgow, at The Lighthouse gallery.