Glasgow School of Art Begins Recovery After Fire, Needs Your Help

The school has set up a fund to help restore the historic library designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It has been a sad weekend for those of us who love the work of the designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Reports of the fate of his masterwork, the Glasgow School of Art (GSA), have been pouring in after the building caught fire on Friday.

An assessment of the site on Saturday has brought both good news and bad. The older wing of the school, home to the Mackintosh museum and furniture gallery, has escaped mostly unscathed. But the west wing and Mackintosh’s beautiful library, important and beloved not only for its sophisticated design but also for the archival material conserved there, has sustained significant damage from the flames, which started in the basement.

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The building’s celebrated library was tragically lost in Friday’s fire.

Courtesy Scottish Fire and Rescue

More than 100 firefighters worked to save the Art Nouveau structure, at one time forming a “human wall” to arrest the spread of the flames. But saving a historic building in a fire like this is very tricky, the assistant chief fire officer David Goodhew told the Daily Mail yesterday. “‘It is not a building designed with fire safety in mind and the things that  make it so attractive, like the wooden panels, offer firefighters a significant challenge,” he said.

Firefighters clear out the gallery space, which was spared by the fire.

Courtesy Glasgow School of Art Facebook

The library, with its sculptural wooden interiors, was an easy victim, it would appear. Many students also lost their work to the flames, just as they were gearing up for their final degree show. The GSA clearly has a long path to recovery ahead.

If you loved poring over Mackintosh’s designs in history books, or were lucky enough to visit the school and fall in love with his work in person, there are two ways to help. Offers of material assistance can be directed to Alan Horn, Director of Development at [email protected].

The school is also asking for donations on the web site The Big Give, with a goal of a million pounds—“It is not yet clear what the financial need shall be, but it is likely to be significant,” the administrators of the fund say.

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