KE Theme: Visual Arts

The College of Arts engages with the visual arts at local, national and international levels, building on Glasgow’s reputation as the largest centre for art collections in the UK outside London. Working primarily through History of Art - part of the School of Culture and Creative Arts - the College collaborates with museums to stage exhibitions, create major public catalogues, develop new technologies and acquire new works. Online and offline, the College helps to make sure that visual arts are seen in a new way, by everyone.

The College works closely with the University’s Hunterian Museum and the Glasgow Museums, as well as with institutions further afield. Collaborative research projects have led to publications and highly popular public exhibitions, like the recent Rembrandt exhibition at the Hunterian Art Gallery in 2012.

In the long term, student placement opportunities have allowed us to connect postgraduate students with institutions like the National Trust for Scotland and the Smithsonian Institute, Washington. As well as giving students valuable experience in the field of museums, historic houses and archives, we also encourage students to make their own contributions to the success of the institution.

NICE Paintings and Your Paintings are two important projects in which the College is engaged, designed to increase public access to paintings on the web. In conjunction with the National Gallery, London and Birkbeck College London, we have helped to put more than 8000 European Nice Paintings from UK public collections online so far. We also manage the research and tagging project for Your Paintings, which aims to show the entire UK national collection of 200,000+ oil paintings and tell their stories.

Building on Glasgow’s status as a hub of experimental and creative activity, we are contributing to new developments in Technical Art History. By combining scientific analysis with expert interpretation, we are gaining new insights into historical painting techniques and materials, which helps to improve conservation techniques. We can also authenticate works more reliably than was possible in the past.

In the contemporary art field, Glasgow is known not only for its leading artists and Turner prize-winners from the Glasgow School of Art, but also its fantastic platforms such as the Centre for Contemporary Art and The Common Guild. Outside Glasgow, we help public collections across Scotland to acquire and present challenging contemporary visual art through the National Collecting Scheme for Scotland, an initiative of Creative Scotland. By organising workshops and facilitating discussion, we also give curators an opportunity to extend their knowledge and understanding of contemporary visual arts, and to develop their engagement with the visual arts sector in Scotland.

Through this varied work, we aim to engage with the wide spectrum of the visual arts through individuals and communities, and contribute to the vibrancy and vitality of cultural life in Glasgow, the UK, and beyond.

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