Funding boost for V&A Dundee’s Mackintosh project

Moira Malcolm, director of Rainbow Glass Studio, holds a replica glass lamp created for the Oak Room in V&A Dundee (image: Michael McGurk)

A project to conserve, restore and redisplay a complete Charles Rennie Mackintosh interior at V&A Dundee has received a £300,000 funding boost.

The Art Fund has contributed £200,000, while the Scottish Government has given a further £100,000 to the fundraising for the £1.3 million project, which will see the Oak Room interior go on public display for the first time in almost 50 years.

The interior will be permanently displayed at the heart of V&A Dundee’s Scottish Design Galleries. It will be revealed when the museum opens on Saturday 15 September.

V&A Dundee and Dundee City Council are working in partnership with Glasgow Museums, which saved the interior from destruction in 1971 and took the disassembled parts into Glasgow City Council’s museum collections.

The Oak Room was the largest Charles Rennie Mackintosh interior for Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms in Glasgow. The 13.5 metre-long, double-height room was designed by the architect in 1907 and completed the following year.

When the tearooms were removed from their original Ingram Street premises, each room was numbered, each wall was given a reference, and each piece of panelling was coded. Glasgow Museum quantified and documented all surviving Oak Room panelling in 2004-5.

The project has also been supported by the National Lottery in its first research phase and through a range of individual gifts, the V&A Dundee said.

The Oak Room conservation project received an initial grant of £400,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, given on behalf of players of the National Lottery. This, V&A Dundee said, allowed the full extent of required work to be established, including a full reconstruction of the remaining parts of the room.

Philip Long, director of the V&A Dundee commented, “The project to conserve and restore an entire interior by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, unseen for nearly 50 years, has been one of the most exciting parts of creating V&A Dundee.

“As a designer, architect and artist, Mackintosh is of worldwide significance. He has been an inspiration to very many designers, from the moment his work was first seen through to today – including the architect of V&A Dundee, Kengo Kuma.”

He continued, “When we set about developing galleries for the new museum telling the story of Scotland’s design history, it was vital Mackintosh was represented in a major way. Now, with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish Government and others that has been made possible.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of Art Fund said, “While Art Fund has helped in the combined acquisition and conservation of a number of works in our 115-year history, this marks the first instance of us specifically funding a major conservation project in its own right.

“The Oak Room is one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s greatest achievements – his vision is reflected in every piece and detail of this spectacular interior – and Art Fund is thrilled to support its conservation as it is painstakingly reconstructed, ready to go on display for the first time since the 1970s. We are certain it will be the star attraction of the new V&A Dundee and enjoyed by visitors across Scotland and beyond.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said, “Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of Scotland’s greatest artists who has inspire and moved so many across the world with his work. The Scottish Government is pleased to be supporting the Oak Room conservation as a central part of the new V&A Dundee, so that the public can admire once more again this famous piece of Mackintosh’s work.”

Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor David McDonald added, “The Oak Room at V&A Dundee is a fantastic example of joint working and we are thrilled that we can bring back this lost fem for public display in the year of Mackintosh’s 150th anniversary. Mackintosh designed it for his most important patron, Miss Cranston, for her famous Ingram Street tearooms in Glasgow and it has now been restored to all its original glory.

“The room consists of hundreds of individual wooden and stained-glass parts and uncovers Mackintosh’s ingenuity for creatively arranging interior spaces into complete works of art. We look forward to this exciting collaborative project being enjoyed by audiences near and far.”