As promised we have an update on what has been happening with our collections, starting with our paper based archives.
Here at the GSA we have a variety of paper archives and art work on paper. These include over 2000 boxes of records created by the school and its students and staff, such as the archive of the architectural firm Gillespie Kidd & Coia, the school governor’s notes, ephemera, photographs relating to Glasgow and the school’s exhibitions and events, and the bulk of our deposited collections. Alongside this, our stores house architectural plans, pieces of artwork, the student registers and several original works by Mackintosh (including the Magazine, the architectural drawings for the school and his watercolours, some of which are currently being exhibited in the Reid Gallery as part of GENERATION). This material provides the foundation of the school’s history and these items are often the first to be relied on here in the archive for visitor enquiries.
Fortunately the bulk of this material was unharmed by the fire, however a small section was exposed to water after the fire was extinguished and were the first items to be removed from the building.
The majority of records touched by water could be air dried but any records that required more extensive conservation were removed offsite to document specialists ‘Harwell’ where they will be frozen so that conservation work can be undertaken. The rest were assessed by paper conservators from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) who helped to repackage and identify any documents at risk. With the risk of repeating myself, once again I really must say thank you to those from the NRS who helped during this time. Your help was very much appreciated.
Due to the potential risk of exposure to water while the materials remained inside the Mack the decision was made to evacuate the building of all materials as quickly as possible. This resulted in the formation, on Tuesday 3rd June, of a human chain travelling from our stores and winding its way down to McLellan Galleries where these materials were stored temporarily.
We would once again like to thank all those who helped form this chain and contributed to the truly immense task of emptying both stores in a single day. These include:
- Historic Scotland crew, who manned the staircases to pass up the boxes and took apart and lifted all of our plan chest drawers down to McLellan Galleries
- Volunteers from the GSA staff and associated institutions who generously gave their time
Due to this immense endeavour the entirety of our collections were removed from the building and set aside for repackaging and labelling.
Repacking and Labelling
Once these materials were removed they were assessed by external conservators who offered their services before the process of repackaging and labelling went underway. For this, there are many more volunteers we have to thank:
- The National Galleries
- The University of Strathclyde
- The University of Glasgow both staff and students
- Museum Galleries Scotland
- Dewar’s Archive
- The National Records of Scotland
- Harwell Document Restoration Service
As the bulk of these collections were in a stable condition they have been moved offsite for safe storage.
That is the current stage of our paper archives and next week we will be providing an update on our textile collections.