News
Exhibitions

Revealed: the profits of staging a touring exhibition

Usually highly secret financial data on Burrell Collection's travelling show disclosed for forthcoming Glasgow City Council meeting

UPDATE: On 8 March, Glasgow City Council approved the loan of paintings from the Burrell Collection to tour six museums in France and Japan for the first time.

Edgar Degas, The Rehearsal (1874) CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

Fascinating details about a tour of the Burrell Collection’s late 19th-century French paintings have been revealed. Financial data on touring exhibitions is normally highly secret, but the Burrell’s data has been recorded in a report for a Glasgow City Council meeting on Thursday (8 March). This meeting is expected to approve the exhibition loans.

A group of 58 works is being lent to the Musée Cantini in Marseille, which reopens on 18 May after refurbishment. The council report values the 47 paintings and 11 works on paper at £180.7m. The pictures include Degas’s The Rehearsal (around 1874) and Cézanne’s The Château of Médan (around 1880).

Although the Japanese tour will be larger, with 55 paintings and 25 works on paper (including seven non-Burrell works from Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum), the value of the loans will be lower: £141.8m.

What is even more interesting are the complex financial details of the deal. No fee is being paid by the Musée Cantini, but a sponsor is assisting the Burrell. It will contribute €100,000 towards the exhibition costs and €50,000 towards the Burrell’s refurbishment costs. The Art Newspaper understands that the sponsor is likely to be the London-based financial advisors Rothschild & Co and its new Marseille banking partner, Rothschild Martin Maurel.

The Japanese tour, which will go to five venues from this October to January 2020, is being financed on a different basis. Each venue is paying a hire fee of £30,000, plus £1 per visitor after the first 100,000. If, for the sake of argument, each venue attracts 150,000 visitors, then the full total from Japan would be £400,000 (plus €50,000 for the French venue).

When the tour idea was first considered, five years ago, the Burrell hoped to raise many millions from a touring exhibition, but this target has proved much too ambitious. James Robinson, the director of the Burrell Renaissance project, says that “profile raising for the Burrell and for Glasgow is just as important as the funding”.

The Burrell Collection, which comprises 9,000 artworks given by the Glasgow shipowner William Burrell, was opened in 1983, in Pollok Park, on the outskirts of the city. The building is now in need of a fundamental refurbishment.

The cost of the refurbishment project is estimated at £66m, which means that the touring shows may bring in around 1% of the total. Glasgow City Council is to provide up to half the £66m and the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £15m, with contributions from other donors.

Under the terms of Burrell, who died in 1958, his works could not be lent abroad because he was concerned about transport risks. In 2014 the Burrell trustees obtained special approval from the Scottish Parliament to enable them to lend abroad. The collection’s works by Degas are currently on loan to London’s National Gallery, until 7 May.

The Burrell Collection closed for refurbishment in October 2016 and is due to reopen in late 2020.

The Marseille exhibition, Courbet, Degas, Cézanne: Chefs d’Oeuvres réalistes et Impressionistes da la collection Burrell, is at the Musée Cantini, 8 May-23 September. The Japanese show, The Burrell Collection: a Voyage to Impressionism, Vision of a Great Shipowner, will tour to Fukuoka, Ehime, Tokyo, Shizuoka and Hiroshima, 12 October 2018-26 January 2020.