Although not the capital, Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. It prides itself on its multi-cultural scene with a prosperous Muslim community representing the largest non-white Scottish group in the city and in Scotland. The Glasgow Museums collection is the biggest managed by any local authority in the United Kingdom and one of a handful of municipal collections that are recognized to have national importance. This service was founded in 1854 with the McLellan collection of European paintings, which was donated to the people of Glasgow by Archibald McLellan together with a building to house it. At present Glasgow manages thirteen public museums covering a wide range of subjects.
Glasgow’s Islamic collections come from all over the world with objects from Africa, Spain, the Middle East and Central Asia. The oldest items date back to the 10th and 11th centuries. The earliest objects to enter the museums’ collections were donated in the 1870s. Though many of these are private donations, some were purchased by the museum service. The Islamic collections are mainly housed at The Burrell Collection, The St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
The main strength of the Islamic collections lies in the large donation of Sir William Burrell and his wife, who gifted their massive and varied collection to Glasgow in 1944. It includes Iranian and Mughal Indian ceramics and carpets, Turkish and Uzbek textiles and embroideries, and Hispano-Moresque lustrewares. The other Islamic collections of Glasgow Museums include objects from Mughal India, Fatimid and Mamluk Egypt and Syria, the Ottoman Middle East, and 19th century Berber and Arab North Africa. In addition to all of the above, Glasgow Museums is interested in developing its contemporary Islamic collections by welcoming donations of modern Islamic arts and crafts, as well as strengthening the other areas within its Islamic collections.