By Jim Clarkson

A very happy birthday to a cultural icon

On the anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's birth, Jim Clarkson, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, reflects on the legacy of the father of The Glasgow Style.

Flip open any book on Art Nouveau and alongside Barcelona, Paris, Vienna, Brussels and Chicago, you’ll find a chapter on Glasgow. That’s largely thanks to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose 150th birthday we celebrate today.

As an artist, architect, designer and father of ‘The Glasgow Style’, Mackintosh is now widely regarded as Scotland’s foremost creative talent, and he left a magnificent legacy for our cultural heritage – and tourism.

Hill House in Helensburgh

Part of The Hill House in Helensburgh, considered Mackintosh's domestic masterpiece.

Mackintosh’s influence is truly global. His masterpiece, The Glasgow School of Art is treasured today as one of the world’s finest buildings of the Modern movement. At the same time, his iconic chair designs have been used to lend exoticism to films including Batman, Blade Runner and Inception, and famous fans include Brad Pitt.

Mackintosh is an integral part of the draw to today’s Glasgow, with his art and architecture available at around a dozen sites, with the attractions welcoming over a million visitors – and growing.

As a unique characteristic of our cultural offer, Mackintosh is central to the city’s growth ambitions set out in The Glasgow Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023, which aims to attract an additional one million visitors, deliver an economic boost of £771 million and contribute an additional 6,600 jobs in the city.

This year’s celebration of Mackintosh’s 150th anniversary will make a significant contribution to that ambition, and also launch a 10 year plan that will support investment and build capacity at venues.

A £10 million investment has been made to restore the original Sauchiehall Street Willow Tea Rooms, which will open to the public in July as ‘Mackintosh at the Willow’, and excitement is growing for the reopening of the Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art in 2019, restored following the fire four years ago.

Mackintosh 150 is driven by the partnership of Glasgow Life, ScotRail and Glasgow Mackintosh attractions. Partnership and collaboration is at the heart of Scottish tourism and we work with local industry to develop and deliver innovative initiatives that grow the visitor economy. Therefore, we are delighted to be supporting Mackintosh 150 with an award of £40,000 from the VisitScotland Growth Fund.

Highlights of the programme include a major exhibition running at Kelvingrove until 14 August, the stunning Museum of the Moon at The Mackintosh Church until 24 June and still to come, the recreation of the Oak Room from Mackintosh’s Ingram Street Tea Rooms, which will be unveiled at V&A Dundee when it opens on 15 September.

Scotland Street Window

The elaborate stained glass of the Scotland Street School Museum.

Virgin Trains have even joined the party with a new train named Charles Rennie Mackintosh – complete with his distinctive moustache!

These events, along with Glasgow’s rich array of legacy sites, will allow people from across the world to celebrate Mackintosh and these visitors represent a major benefit to the city’s economy. Tourism is more than a holiday experience – it is integral to sustaining communities across Scotland by generating income, creating jobs and stimulating social change.

For more information about Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his anniversary go to www.visitscotland.com/about/famous-scots/charles-rennie-mackintosh/ and peoplemakeglasgow.com/things-to-do/mackintosh/mackintosh-150

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