The Magical World of Mackintosh makes the famed designer accessible to kids
The architect is the subject of a Festival of Museums activity day
It went from a place of learning, to a place to learn about learning – but whatever its use, the brilliance of its architect shines through. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1904, Scotland Street School Museum has many of its creator’s signature trademarks. But look closer, and there are hidden gems most of us just pass by. Which is something the next family day at the museum is seeking to address.
Part of this year’s Festival of Museums, The Magical World of Mackintosh is a chance for adults and children alike to get beneath the skin of Mackintosh’s designs, and explore his inspiratons for the school.
‘There are a lot of decorative motifs that are quite subtle,’ explains Jenny Bell Harman of Glasgow Museums, ‘but once you look into the design behind them, you find lots of ideas about seeds, leaves and branches. Mackintosh wanted to have something that was relevant to it being a building of education, so there are symbols depicting the development of plant life, which would be compared to the growth of the children attending the school.’
Mackintosh’s career as an architect, designer and watercolourist has informed the day, with puppet making, storytelling, watercolour workshops, a giant mosaic and opportunities for under 5s to build their own structure.
Roaming the building will also be three living history characters: Mackintosh, his wife and fellow-artist, Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh, and the wife of the school janitor. ‘They’ll be dramatising some of the stories and secrets hidden within the building,’ says Bell Harman. ‘There was tension between Mackintosh and the school board, because they weren’t really on the same page in terms of design. And the janitor’s wife was critical of Mackintosh, because the accommodation he created for her family was quite small. So there are different points of view, and different interactions Mackintosh had when he was building the school, that could help visitors see his designs in a new way.’
Scotland Street School Museum, Glasgow, Sat 19 May.