In March 2022, The Burrell Collection reopened its doors after six years of closure and a £68.25 million refurbishment.

The project began in August 2018 and the BECK team subsequently spent three and a half years refurbishing 36 galleries & increasing the size of the museum by 35%.  The project included display plinths, bespoke AV housings, barriers, graphic support structures and specialist substrates, integrated display component lighting and control, plus electrical and data cabling throughout.


The collection, of almost 9000 objects, was gifted to the city of Glasgow in 1944 by Sir William Burrell & his wife Lady Constance. It takes visitors on a tour of 50 countries across 6000 years of history, from 4000 BC to the turn of the 20th century. A key condition of bequeathing the collection was a stipulation Sir William made, that it must remain housed in one building.

In 2013, The Burrell Collection was listed as a building of special architectural and historical interest by Historic Environment Scotland. Being listed as Category A showed its importance internationally, as well as nationally. However, in recent years, deteriorating environment conditions affected the housing of the collection and saw a drop in visitor numbers. The extensive redesign of the building was influenced by a public consultation with 15,000 Glaswegians. Greater space, energy efficiency, digital and interactive displays now enhance the visitor experience. Many objects from the collection, which have never been on permanent display, or remained in storage for decades, are now displayed for viewing.


As installation took place, durable engineered stone, similar to quartz, was used for the front fascias of the display plinths.  Dekton is a derivative of quartz but is even more durable and able to withstand the demands of a busy museum environment.  The Dekton used for the fit-out was manufactured as an excellent visual match for original limestone.

Simon says: “Dekton is a really new product and has not been out that long.  The price is still high due to its new presence on the marketplace but it will end up taking the place of Quartz.”

Limestone was used prominently when the museum first opened and planning conditions dictated that it must be used again for the front fascias in the North Gallery.  It was important to the client that the stone used was the closest possible match to the original limestone used in the fabric of the building.  The quarry used for the original build was located on the south coast in Portland, near Weymouth, and had since been closed.

Simon says: “The quarry had been closed but was re-opened so we could match the stone.  It was required for the building, and we were then able to cut some of the stone to use in our part of the build.

The use of the limestone provided a unique challenge regarding access to the plinths for future maintenance.  So a bespoke sliding system was then developed and integrated into the subframe, to allow this.

Materials must be selected carefully for use in a museum, where a high footfall means daily wear and tear on the displays.   Simon says: The client was keen on the look of blackened steel for the AV housings and graphics frames, which is a very popular finish to metal at the moment.  However, unfortunately it wouldn’t last in a museum environment.  It’s not a protective covering, it’s more like colouring the metal.  This means it’s still open to the elements and even greasy fingerprints on the blackened steel will make it rust.  We wanted to create the effect our client was after but ensure it would remain crisp and sharp for many years.  The team sourced a powder coated metal with a dead matt finish to it.  We wanted to give our client options to make sure there was longevity in all the materials they used.”

Burrell low res-43

Stained Glass Success

One of the greatest successes of the project saw the team work closely with Glasgow Life to create giant frames for the large stained-glass windows which make up part of the museum’s collection.

The design phase was extensive to allow the windows, which were up to seven metres high, to be supported correctly and back lit, with light sheets behind to allow light to come through the glass.  The design needed to be sympathetic to the windows, protect the glass and allow the museum staff to easily remove and replace objects where needed.

The team also worked closely with Glasgow Life Conservation on the frames and lightboxes housing the stained-glass objects, to ensure ventilation and installation requirements were met, for the priceless artefacts in the collection.

Client Feedback

Glasgow Life said: “We have worked with BECK Interiors since 2018 to develop and construct museum quality display systems for use throughout the Burrell Collection.  During this period BECK demonstrated their professionalism and expertise in various aspects of the design and build, and were happy to attend meetings and workshops with our numerous stakeholders to ensure that the end product met everyone’s aspirations.  Throughout the installation and fit-out period, BECK provided a dedicated team of professional and skilled workers who worked diligently to install the displays to the highest level of detail.  The project faced various impacts from Covid-19 and I am delighted to say that BECK worked alongside the client throughout the changing situation to ensure the programme was met.  We highly recommend BECK Interiors for exhibition fit-out.”




(Photographer credit for Glasgow street image: Radubradu)