Rennie Mackintosh disaster: full extent of damage

Rennie Mackintosh disaster: full extent of damage


norman lebrecht

May 25, 2014

The fire that gutted the Glasgow School of Arts on Friday completely wiped out its famous library, but the majority of the Art Nouveau building was somehow saved.

And curators are confident that the library can be restored in time from drawings and photographs.

This could have been so much worse. Full statement from GSA chair, Muriel Gray:

glasgow fire



Statement from Muriel Gray on the state of the Mackintosh Building

After a sobering tour and inspection of the interior of the Mackintosh along with Professor Tom Inns with two expert colleagues today we have a much clearer idea of what the situation is.
Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated.
But the most amazing, almost miraculous news is that the majority of the building is still intact. Due to one of the most astonishingly intelligent and professional pieces of strategy by the fire services, they succeeded in protecting the vast majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of fire-fighters up the west end of the main staircase and containing the fire.
Also after ensuring no lives were in peril they displayed an impressive understanding of the precious nature of the building, and due to their careful and meticulous handling of each developing situation the damage is considerably less than we dreaded. We have run out of words with which to thank them, but the school has most certainly gained a new gallery of heroes.
Tragically many students have lost some or all of their work, but many others have had theirs preserved, and curators and academic staff can expect to be allowed to enter the building in the next few days to try and assess what can be salvaged.
The joy that our archives are safe combines with the delight in seeing most of our beloved building bruised and battered but most certainly not destroyed.
As for the library, Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible.
Our main concern right now is the welfare of the students and the impending graduation and everyone is working hard together to achieve the best outcome for all.
I don’t think I have ever been prouder of being part of institution over these last two days. It’s not just been the amazing team work, professionalism and support that everyone involved with GSA have demonstrated, but the warmth of support and help from the wider public and all our friends across the world has astonished us. We‘d like to thank everyone from the depths of our hearts.


  • Nick says:

    Reports indicate the first fire crews were on the scene with four minutes and the efforts of the 200-strong team of firemen ensured the preservation of most of the building. Excellent news, as is the pledge of the Scottish government of “millions” towards the restoration.