Our History >

Founded in 1845 as a Government School of Design, The Glasgow School of Art has grown to become one of the United Kingdom's pre-eminent institutions for the study and advancement of fine art, design and architecture.

The School was originally based at 116 Ingram Street in a building erected around 1805 as commercial premises. The new School was immediately over-subscribed and the accommodation deemed inadequate so additional space was purchased on Montrose Street. Although the School moved to new premises in 1869, the Ingram Street buildings remained until 1982 when they were demolished.

In 1869 the School moved to the buildings on Sauchiehall Street, in a corner of the McLellan Galleries, erected in 1855 to accommodate the city's art collection. A report from the examiner of the Science and Art Department which oversaw art education stated that the rooms were "ill adapted for the purposes of a school of art.....with the aggravation of the grey dull atmosphere prevailing here for half the year the students labour under positive disadvantage".

Despite this, the reputation of The Glasgow School of Art was high. In the league tables of schools administered by the Science and Art Department, in the National Awards, the GSA was third highest in the number of medals and prizes.

In 1885 a new Director was appointed - Francis H Newbery. Under Newbery's directorship, the School moved in to a new purpose built building on Renfrew Street, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The history of the School from this point is inextricably linked Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh, architect, designer, artist and alumnus, heralded the birth of a new style in 20th century European architecture with his designs in 1896 for the new art school building which was completed in 1909, funded in the main by private donation. The major benefactor was the Bellahouston Trust and today the School's relationship with the Trust continues through an annual scholarship for students in the School of Simulation and Visualisation (formerly the Digital Design Studio). 

As one of the oldest art and design institutions in the UK, the GSA is unique in its ability to illustrate the nature and history of art education itself; document trends, styles and fashions both in the practice and in the education of artists, designers and architects and the important role the School played in this.

Today, the School continues to be pioneering with new developments and programmes such as the opening of the Reid Building in 2014, which was designed by New York based Steven Holl Architects in partnership with JM Architects based in Glasgow, the School of Visualisation and Simulation, the Centre for Advanced Textiles, our new campus in the Highlands and Islands, and the Mackintosh Campus Project.