The Twentieth Century Society

100 Buildings 100 Years

1981: Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow

Type: Public building
Architect: William Whitfield
Owners: University of Glasgow
Location: University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ

The dramatic skyline of Whitfield’s earlier Library is now effectively lost to us, but its neighbour remains a fine example of the architect’s interest in forms (in Brutalist clothing) reflecting the peels of his native Northumberland. But what goes on in the largest tower? Fenestration boxed out in contemporary vein, but the individual windows all C19th or early C20th in pattern. And a Glasgow Style door in mid-air!

Mid-air, that is to reflect the position and aspect of the door of the (demolished) home of the Mackintoshes, which stood a few metres away. The painstakingly reconstructed interiors are within, along with a recreation of Mackintosh’s bedroom at 78 Derngate in the top-floor gallery.

The top-lit picture galleries are quite low-key, to allow the collections to speak for themselves, but heralded by Paolozzi’s monumental cast-aluminium doors. A single oculus lights the sweeping Piranesian staircase. Magical.

by Euan McCulloch