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Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Just as Barcelona has Gaudí and Chicago has Frank Lloyd Wright, Glasgow has the Art Nouveau magic of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a pioneering Glaswegian architect, designer and artist known as one of the most creative figures of the 20th century and Glasgow is the only city in the world where you can view a concentration of his renowned work.

No trip to the city would be complete without experiencing the magic of Mackintosh.

Mackintosh at the Willow

A city stamped with Mackintosh style

Mackintosh’s first major project in 1899, the Glasgow Herald Building, is now known as Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture. Situated in the heart of Glasgow city centre, and home to the Mackintosh Centre - The Lighthouse is the perfect place to begin your Mackintosh journey through the city. 

The Lighthouse staircase

Another place to view a fantastic collection of Mackintosh objects and furniture is the Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style Gallery at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. As the largest permanent display of work in the world by the key names in the Glasgow Style movement, you will find furniture, stained glass, metalwork and even reconstructed rooms from this internationally important period of design.

During his career, Mackintosh designed a range of important city buildings, from educational facilities to tearooms and church halls to domestic dwellings, leaving a magnificent legacy of buildings, drawings, designs and motifs stamped upon his home city.

You can witness the mature architect’s genius on full display with his final major city commission and now a popular visitor attraction, Scotland Street School. The building is a museum dedicated to telling the story of education in Scotland and is one of many Mackintosh masterpieces in the city.

Scotland Street Credit Alan McAteer Photography

The beauty of Mackintosh design   

House for an Art Lover is a unique visitor attraction located in the tranquil surrounds of Bellahouston Park in the south of the city. The House was built in 1996 taking inspiration from a portfolio of Mackintosh drawings which he had submitted as a competition entry to a German design magazine in 1901. The building includes a permanent exhibition of decoratively furnished rooms.

House for an Art Lover

Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903, Miss Cranston’s original Willow Tea Rooms in their Sauchiehall Street location underwent a meticulous restoration, reopening as Mackintosh at the Willow in 2018 - a world-class cultural and heritage attraction. Visitors can now enjoy the new exhibition, visitor centre, tea room and gift shop, showcasing the achievements of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh and Miss Kate Cranston.

Salon de LuxeSalon de Luxe. Credit: The Willow Tearooms Trust

Mackintosh in detail 

For a vision of gothic beauty, with atmospheric abundance, check out Mackintosh Queen's Cross, a church in the north of the city. Infused with the flourishes of a master architect within each brick, window pane and floral motif; it is no wonder that it has become a popular venue for concerts and weddings. 

To see how Mackintosh and his wife, artist Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh lived then head to The Hunterian, located at the University of Glasgow. Here you will find The Mackintosh House, a meticulous re-assembly of the interiors of their own home, with each room an outstanding work of art in their own right.

Considered his domestic masterpiece, The Hill House in Helensburgh was built as his vision of a "home for the future" between 1902 and 1904. Visitors can witness never before seen views of the house, due to a current 10-year conservation programme, which includes a protective box surrounding the house and walkways over and around the house.


Tours and trails 

Based in Glasgow, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society runs a series of general and bespoke tours as well as downloadable tour leaflets for self-guided walking tours

Mackintosh Mural

Many of the Mackintosh attractions also offer venue tours and have a programme of temporary exhibitions.  And throughout the month of October, a variety of events are staged across the city as part of the annual Mackintosh Festival.  

As you make your way around, be sure to visit the Mackintosh mural outside the Clutha Bar. The design was commissioned by the new Radisson RED Hotel to mark the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh's birth in 2018. The stunning design pays homage to the Glaswegian icon and his distinctive art deco and rose motif style. 

Continuing to honour Mackintosh's legacy

A statue of Charles Rennie Mackintosh sitting proudly on the Argyle Chair was unveiled at the end of 2018 in the Anderston area of the city. Internationally renowned Glaswegian sculptor, Andy Scott, whose previous work includes the Kelpies in Falkirk, spent three years creating the bronze statue, which was commissioned by Sanctuary Building Group.


A Mackintosh inspired installation, The Light Pavilion, is currently in place in Glasgow’s iconic Central Station. Designer Scott Jarvie has fully utilised the natural light that filters through the glass roof in Glasgow’s Central Station throughout his design to honour Mackintosh as the master of light, pattern and form. Standing 15ft high and more than six feet wide, The Light Pavilion invites commuters and tourists to sit, think and reflect if they wish. 

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Go Glasgow App

To honour Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the City of Glasgow has installed an innovative network of Bluetooth beacons at all Mackintosh venues so when you're walking around the city, each beacon communicates with the Go Glasgow app to reveal the story of each building as you arrive or pass by. The app also provides practical information for each venue, Mackintosh news & events and a map of all the venues. The app is free and you can download from either the App Store or Google Play.

Find out more about all of the Mackintosh attractions in Glasgow and learn more about the incredible range of architecture and built heritage on display in the city.

Article last updated: January 2020