The enduring appeal of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

The enduring legacy and increasing popularity of Charles Rennie Mackintosh has seen a major boost in visitors to Mackintosh attractions across Scotland in the last year.

Photograph by: VisitScotlandMackintosh House

Almost a century after his death in 1928 the designer and artist continues to hold a fascination among people from around the world.

Mackintosh is considered one of the principal exponents of the Glasgow Style. He went on to be regarded as one of the most creative figures of the 20th century and a leading figure in both the Scottish Arts and Crafts Movement and European Art Nouveau.

Glasgow is home to the world’s pre-eminent collection of Mackintosh buildings, drawings and designs, which can be explored at venues across the city as well as at two key attractions in nearby Helensburgh.

A recent campaign to celebrate his life and work, called Mackintosh 150 and beyond to commemorate the anniversary of his birth on 7 June 1868, said visitor numbers to Mackintosh locations increase by 29 per cent to 1.2million 

Led by Glasgow Life, the Glasgow Mackintosh Group, ScotRail and supported by a £40,000 VisitScotland Growth Fund award, the campaign focussed on promoting Mackintosh venues and events around Glasgow, across the west of Scotland and in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee. It was also aimed at encouraging UK short-break visitors to consider making a Mackintosh-inspired trip to Glasgow in 2019.

Highlights pf the 12-month long campaign included ‘Making the Glasgow Style’ – a major temporary Mackintosh exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is now on tour at The Walker Gallery in Liverpool, as well as the opening of Mackintosh at The Willow, a £10m tea room and visitor centre in the heart of Glasgow and the opening of The Mackintosh Club in Helensburgh.

“Mackintosh is part of the very fabric of Glasgow and the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve had to this campaign, backed by a record number of visitors to Mackintosh venues and events in Glasgow and beyond, confirms the huge interest and affection there is for him both at home and globally. As such, his cultural legacy remains one of our prime pillars for tourism growth and is central to our destination marketing in the UK and internationally,” said Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life and Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council.

As well as commemorating his remarkable achievements, Mackintosh 150 has been the springboard for the implementation of Glasgow’s ambitious new 10-year Mackintosh Plan to 2028 – which seeks to promote and recognise Mackintosh as Scotland’s national architect – with the leaders of the city’s Mackintosh buildings, collections and organisations coming together to form a senior operations group, managed by Glasgow Life.

Read more about Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland Correspondent issue 5

The plan aims to safeguard Mackintosh’s legacy for future generations; inspire more young people to take an interest in art and design; and promote his unique portfolio to more international visitors, enabling the economic contribution of tourism in the city to grow. With a target of attracting one million more overnight leisure tourism visits over the next five years, the significance of Mackintosh is one of the principal

Scotland Correspondent magazine

drivers of Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023.

“Glasgow is a city steeped in culture, and the unique, inspirational and globally significant collection of Charles Rennie Mackintosh works play a leading role,” Alasdair Smart Tourism Manager at ScotRail.

“This campaign was a fantastic example of how industry partners can collaborate to achieve great results, and we’re delighted to have been a part it.”