GoMA Restoration Complete

GoMA Restoration Complete

A project to restore the clock tower at one of Glasgow’s most famous buildings led by Austin-Smith:Lord has now been completed. Restoration work at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) focused on the 189 year old clock tower and weather vane, which have been cleaned, restored and reinstated.

Previously coated in stained cream masonry paint and cement repairs, together with vegetation growing out of the Corinthian column bases, the clock tower needed an extensive series of conservation repairs.

Glasgow Life, which manages GoMA, instructed conservation accredited architects at the Glasgow studio of Austin-Smith:Lord to assess the true condition of the tower and advise on a suitable repair strategy.

The project, which was undertaken by City Building Group LLp and CBC Stone, received financial grant support from Historic Environment Scotland.

Initially the team began repairing the tower by cleaning off old paint, which was causing damage to the stonework, redecorating the clock face and removing vegetation from the building.

However, during the examination of the sandstone masonry, the restorers discovered some serious errors in the way in which the original tower had been constructed, between 1827 and 1829.  This necessitated more extensive conservation repairs, including replacing stones that were incorrectly bedded in the past.

Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham, said: “The Gallery of Modern Art is a building firmly tied to the history of Glasgow itself.  We are delighted to reveal the restored clock tower and weather vane, in complete working order just in time for its 200th anniversary.

“I’m very pleased with the delicate restoration work undertaken by Austin-Smith:Lord, who were careful to ensure the results were sympathetic to the historic keeping of the building and the wider environment.  This refurbishment ensures generations to come have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful building in full as it was originally intended.”

David Millar, Director and Head of Conservation at Austin-Smith:Lord, added: “This has been a very interesting and challenging project, assessing solutions and actions that would both enhance the visual aesthetic of this landmark, but also ensure an improved lifespan of the masonry structure into the future.

“There is always a level of risk associated with removing paint from sandstone but it’s an exciting activity as you don’t know what you might find!  We discovered masonry wrongly bedded and sandstone heavily carbonated and although some individuals might like to see these dark deposits removed, it’s not good practice as you are potentially removing too much original historic and listed fabric

“We have steam cleaned and removed loose material and carried out indent repairs and what we have represented follows good conservation practice.  We think the final result is both beautiful and able to stand the test of time.”

Frazer Gibson, Project Manager from Historic Environment Scotland added: “We were pleased to award funding to the Gallery of Modern Art in March 2015 to help them restore the existing masonry of the tower and enhance the heritage merit of the museum, one of Glasgow’s most iconic public buildings. It’s great to see the work now complete, and we hope this encourages even more people to go along and see what this beautiful historic building has to offer.”

Some 600,000 people have been to GoMA in the last year, making it Scotland’s most visited modern art gallery.  It also guaranteed the popular museum a place in the coveted Top Ten most visited attractions in Scotland during 2015.

The Royal Exchange Square building was originally constructed in 1778 as the townhouse of William Cunninghame of Lainshaw, one of Glasgow’s wealthy tobacco lords. It later became a bank in 1816 -17 when it was enlarged to create the Royal Exchange.  It was this work which added the Corinthian pillars of the temple frontage to Queen Street and the Cupola and clock tower design. The Royal Exchange was later purchased by Glasgow Corporation in November 1949 for £105,000.

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