First US Touring Retrospective in a Generation for Charles Rennie Mackintosh Opens October 2019

(New York, NY June 24, 2019) The American Federation of Arts is pleased to announce Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style, a touring exhibition co-organized by Glasgow Museums and the American Federation of Arts. Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth (1868-1928), this is the first-ever exhibition in the United States to contextualize Mackintosh’s seminal work – architecture, design and art – in relation to the broader yet intimately connected circle of designers, architects, and craftspeople with which he shared sources, inspiration, ideas, motifs, and patrons. The exhibition includes 166 remarkable works of art and design, the majority of which will be on public display for the first time in North America. Characterized by taut lines, stylized natural forms, sleek curves, and emphatic geometries, the Glasgow Style was unique – the only British response to the international Art Nouveau movement of the late 1890s – 1900s.

The first Mackintosh retrospective to tour the United States in a generation, Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style introduces audiences to some of the architect-designer-artist’s most iconic works.  It presents his big, bold graphic designs for posters and his high-backed chairs for Miss Catherine Cranston’s famous Glasgow city-center artistic tearooms, in contrast with his lesser-known but equally striking experiments in textile design, interior design and the intricate watercolors he painted in the last years of his life. Offering a unique and expanded dialogue about Mackintosh’s milieu, this exhibition highlights the connections between Mackintosh, his predecessors, contemporaries, collaborators, patrons, kindred spirits, and his hometown city of Glasgow – industrial heartland of nineteenth-century Scotland. Their distinctive variant of Art Nouveau was embraced by the Glasgow School of Art and centered around its Technical Art Studios, whose full spectrum of media work displayed in the exhibition includes: books, ceramics, stained glass, glass, mosaic, metalwork, furniture, textiles, stenciling, needlework, posters, interior and architectural design. Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style presents the most comprehensive appraisal of the Glasgow Style ever assembled in the United States.

This groundbreaking showcase unpacks themes such as the international influences upon Mackintosh’s work, the Glasgow School of Art’s crucial support and encouragement of women designers at a time of great social change, and the physical processes involved in making the visionary interiors, furnishings, and decorative works of art and design that together present and define the imaginative breadth of the Glasgow Style. Works included in the exhibition are drawn from the very best of Glasgow Museum’s internationally renowned civic collections, alongside key pieces from The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, The Glasgow School of Art, and important loans from private collections.

“The American Federation of Arts is pleased to share these incredible works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his contemporaries with a new generation of audiences across the United States, said Pauline Willis, Director and CEO of the American Federation of Arts. “The firsthand experience of the iconic Glasgow Style and its distinctive contributions to the fields of architecture and design will inspire viewers with a rich visual tapestry of objects rarely seen by the American public.”

“Glasgow is proud of its extensive art collection, considered one of the finest in Europe. Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s groundbreaking work is synonymous with Glasgow and lauded internationally so it is only right that we widen the access to these works so people across America can enjoy them,” said Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life and Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council. “We are delighted to partner with the American Federation of Arts to continue the celebration of the incredible legacy and creative genius of Glasgow and Scotland’s greatest cultural icon, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The exhibition gives those who appreciate Mackintosh’s work the space and time to enjoy a wealth of stunning art and objects, many of which have never before been shown outside of the UK. At the same time, it enables us to share the Glasgow Style story, influence, and legacy with a whole new audience.

Alison Brown, Glasgow Museums’ curator for European Decorative Arts and Design from 1800 said, “It has been a joy to have this opportunity to introduce audiences in North America to the new ideas, names, stories, and visual experiences that are unique to this period of Glasgow’s rich cultural history. We cannot send Mackintosh’s buildings abroad, but I can pick artworks, objects, and historic room parts in our collections – and work with filmmakers – to show what makes the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his amazingly talented friends and contemporaries so special. Our conservators have worked tirelessly to clean, conserve, and prepare the best of Glasgow’s important collections for this international tour. I hope visitors are enthralled by the breathtaking beauty of this incomparable era of Scottish design history.”

Twelve new audio-visual productions accompany the exhibition, enhancing the story, architectural design narrative, and the objects on view. The increasingly complex sophistication of Mackintosh’s design – combined with his dogged determination to push boundaries – created dramatic interiors and edifices. A selection of architectural drawings and interior design drawings are presented, displayed alongside specially-made new films of key architectural masterworks designed by Mackintosh, as well as buildings by his friends and progressive architectural contemporaries in Glasgow: James Salmon Junior, and John Gaff Gillespie. Captured by both handheld and drone camerawork, these films are visual poems presenting a detailed, mesmerizing immersion and birds-eye views of some of the most important Glasgow Style buildings in and around the city. Further presentations allow visitors to browse and study digitized sketchbooks and scrutinize magnified object details, explore the important art of stenciling, and experience views of nineteenth-century Glasgow which further bring the city that Mackintosh grew up in and the Glasgow Style to life.


The North American tour officially launches at The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD (October 6, 2019–January 5, 2020) followed by presentations at the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN (June 26–September 27, 2020), the Museum of the American Arts & Crafts Movement, St. Petersburg, FL (October 29, 2020–January 24, 2021), and the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago, IL (February 27–May 23, 2021).

The exhibition is curated by Alison Brown, Glasgow Museums’ curator for European Decorative Arts and Design from 1800 to the present, a position she has held since 1999. Her research, publication contributions, and collection work has particular focus on art and design education and the decorative arts and design produced in Glasgow from 1860 to 1950. She is curator of the Mackintosh and Glasgow Style Gallery at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Brown has been curator of Mackintosh’s Ingram Street Tearooms research project for almost 20 years, most recently curating the conservation and restoration of Mackintosh’s largest interior, The Oak Room of 1907-8, a partnership between Glasgow Museums, the V&A Dundee, and Dundee City Council. The completed room has been lent by Glasgow City Council to the V&A Dundee, where it opened to the public in September 2018. Brown is Vice Chair of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and editor of, and regular contributor to, the Society’s Journal.

Brown is the author of Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Making the Glasgow Style (2018, Glasgow Museums) and Glasgow’s Hidden Treasure, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Ingram Street Tearooms (2004, Glasgow Museums). She has contributed to numerous publications, including Alphonse Mucha In Quest of Beauty (2015, Mucha Foundation Publishing); Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Manifesto for a New Style (2014, Kremlin Museums, Moscow); and The Flower and the Green Leaf: Glasgow School of Art in the Time of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (2009, Luath Press).

Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with new photography presenting new research by guest curator Alison Brown on Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style. The exhibition catalogue is prefaced by two contextual essays: one by Brown on the story on the collecting, study, and understanding of the Glasgow Style, and an introduction by Dr. Martin Bellamy, Research and Curatorial Manager, Glasgow Museums. The catalogue will be 144 pages with 180 color illustrations, co-published by DelMonico Books•Prestel.

Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style is a touring exhibition co-organized by Glasgow Museums and the American Federation of Arts. Support for the US national tour is provided by the Dr. Lee MacCormick Edwards Charitable Foundation. The exhibition comprises works from the collections of Glasgow City Council (Museums and Collections), with loans from Scottish collections and private lenders.

The American Federation of Arts is the leader in traveling exhibitions internationally. A nonprofit institution founded in 1909, the AFA is dedicated to enriching the public’s experience and understanding of the visual arts through organizing and touring art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishing scholarly exhibition catalogues, developing innovative educational programs, and the fostering of a better understanding among nations through the international exchange of art.

Glasgow Museums and Collections is the largest most visited Museum service in the UK outside London.  Its world class portfolio includes over 1.2 million objects and the service attracts over 3.5 million visitors per year.

Glasgow Museums operates nine Museum venues across the city of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Riverside, Gallery of Modern Art, People’s Palace, The Burrell Collection, St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Provand’s Lordship, Scotland Street School Museum, in addition the City Archives and Special Collections are housed in the Mitchell Library, the Open Museum, and the Collections Showcase within the iconic and newly refurbished Kelvin Hall.  Museums are open year round and entry is free.

100% of the collections are publicly accessible, either through current displays within the world class venues or in fully accessible stores at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre and the Kelvin Hall.  The breadth of the collection is of notable significance, ranging from fine art including works by Van Gogh, Degas, Botticelli natural history, contemporary art, transport and technology, Scottish history and archaeology, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, arms and armour and more.

Press contact: Shawna Gallancy, or 212.988.7700 x 205


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