The outstanding Burrell Collection, the lifetime collection of shipping magnate Sir William Burrell (1861–1958), is, for some, the principal reason for visiting Glasgow. Sir William’s only real criterion for buying a piece was whether he liked it or not, enabling him to buy many unfashionable works that cost comparatively little but subsequently proved their worth.

The simplicity and clean lines of the Burrell building are superb, with large picture windows giving sweeping views over woodland and serving as a tranquil backdrop to the objects inside. An airy covered courtyard includes the Warwick Vase, a huge bowl containing fragments of a second-century AD vase from Emperor Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli. On three sides of the courtyard, a trio of dark and sombre panelled rooms have been re-erected in faithful detail from the Burrells’ Hutton Castle home, their tapestries, antique furniture and fireplaces displaying the same eclectic taste as the rest of the museum.

Elsewhere on the ground floor, Greek, Roman and earlier artefacts include an exquisite mosaic Roman cockerel from the first century BC and a 4000-year-old Mesopotamian lion’s head. Nearby, also illuminated by enormous windows, the excellent Oriental Art collection forms nearly a quarter of the whole display, ranging from Neolithic jades through bronze vessels and Tang funerary horses to cloisonné. Burrell considered his medieval and post-medieval European art, which encompasses silverware, glass, textiles and sculpture, to be the most valuable part of his collection: these are ranged across a maze of small galleries.

Upstairs, the cramped and comparatively gloomy mezzanine is probably the least satisfactory section of the gallery, not the best setting for its sparkling array of paintings by artists that include Degas, Manet, Cézanne and Boudin.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Scotland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

8 alternative UK winter breaks

8 alternative UK winter breaks

The UK gets pretty grim during the winter, with its dark, early nights and splutteringly cold weather. But if you can’t wait until spring to start having fun …

07 Nov 2016 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
8 spectacular remote places in Scotland

8 spectacular remote places in Scotland

Scotland’s seven cities offer myriad urban charms, but if you want to really get to the heart of a complex country that makes up 69% of the UK coastline and o…

19 Sep 2016 • Robin McKelvie videocam Video
Video: 5 reasons to road trip Scotland

Video: 5 reasons to road trip Scotland

Scotland is undeniably beautiful. From famous landscapes like Glen Coe and Loch Ness to unheard of islands scattered off the far reaches of the Highlands, there…

05 Sep 2016 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month