“The Burrell Collection Shouldn’t be in Glasgow” – Geoff Stansfield, Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, 1979/80

I was one of two graduates of the University of Glasgow, who moved to Leicester to attend the 1979-80 post-graduate museum

studies course. We had been in the same Archaeology class at Glasgow, and were the only two Scots among a class

of international students.


Like a great many others, we were looking forward to the opening of the Burrell Museum, after so many years of waiting to see

where it would be located and what would be on display.


The Leicester course did not include art, or decorative arts, as the latter was provided at the University of Manchester at the time.

I had applied for the Manchester option, and was fortunate to have an interview. However, I was too honest when asked if I had

applied for any other courses. I replied yes, and said Leicester. The interviewer’s expression made it clear that my chance of

attending Manchester was nil.


For one reason or another, none of the lecturers at Leicester knew anything about museums in Scotland, or the significance of

collections such as those at Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum. One lecturer was born in Edinburgh, and educated at one of

capital’s private schools. She did not know how many national museums or galleries the city possessed.


Geoff Stansfield’s dismissive remarks included: “Glasgow is a working-class city, and has no cultural tradition … It would

be better for everyone if it (the Burrell Collection) was housed in London, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it would be



I was furious, but too shy to speak out. Fortunately, Joyce, my fellow-graduate from Glasgow, stood up and informed the class,

and Mr Stansfield, exactly why Glasgow is the perfect location.




George Fairfull-Smith, September 2022.