With all the fridge magnets and the hair dressers with their Mockintosh lettering, it is easy to forget how good Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s architecture and design work actually is. To set the record straight we’ve put together a list of the ten best stops on the Mackintosh tour.
Click the links in the description for maps and opening times.
1. Glasgow School of Art
An icon of 20th-century design and arguably the world’s first modernist building, Mackintosh’s masterpiece is full of surprising details. The best angles on this fantastic building are around the facades of the north and west wings. The interior is only open to guided tours but it is well worth booking for a trip that includes a visit to the extraordinary library and its wonderful lights and desks.
2. Scotland Street School Museum
A real Mackintosh treat, this majestic school building is now a newly refurbished museum offering an insight into Glaswegian schooling in the first half of the 20th century. It also presents a detailed look at the architectural plans of Mackintosh’s final commission in Glasgow, showing how he added numerous ornamental details once the drafts had been approved, much to the annoyance of the School Board.
3. The Lighthouse
Tucked away down an alleyway off Buchanan Street, The Lighthouse was central to Glasgow becoming UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999, transforming Mackintosh’s Glasgow Herald building into a modern Centre for Architecture, Design & the City. With an evolving programme of exhibitions and events, it’s an exciting part of Glasgow’s cultural scene. The well-contextualised Mackintosh Interpretation Centre leads you to a daunting helical staircase which offers those fit enough to climb it a stunning view over the whole city.
4. Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery
There are three parts to the Hunterian: a natural history museum, a gallery, and the Mackintosh House, with its recreation of the architect’s home in Southpark Avenue, where he lived from 1906 to 1914. The rooms are minimalist but adorned with exquisite decoration. Perfect if you’re looking for interior decoration ideas.
5. House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park
Built according to plans Mackintosh submitted to a German architecture competition in 1901, the House for an Art Lover was completed in 1996 to mixed reactions. Externally, it has stark Modernist curves, but inside the grids and flowers seem more Mockintosh than Mackintosh.
6. Kelvingrove Museum
In the huge space of the Kelvingrove Museum, two rooms are devoted to Mackintosh’s graphic and decorative work. The influence and talents of his wife, Margaret MacDonald, is also explored.
7. Queen’s Cross Church
Home of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh society, the Queen’s Cross Church is austere but elegant, but full of distinctive details. It is well worth a visit.
8. Willow Tea Rooms
The formidable Kate Cranston got the young Mackintosh to design a complete interior for her fashionable tea rooms. The result is both strange and elegant.
9. Necropolis Glasgow
Apparently there is a monument designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the Necropolis but I’ve never been able to find it! Perhaps you’ll have better luck, but even if you don’t spot it there is much to admire in Glasgow’s version of Pere Lachaise.
10. Martyrs’ School
A council building that is open by appointment only, Mackintosh’s first school shows many of his characteristic details in an embryonic form that would later flourish at Scotland Street. Closed as a school in 1974, it was saved from destruction by the Mackintosh Society.
Further Reading: History and People: Charles Rennie Mackintosh