Attraction: Mackintosh at the GSA tour

Mackintosh GSA tour - model building

Take in some Glasgow style at the GSA

As a Glaswegian blogger I often find myself in the situation where I’m asked to recommend touristy places in Glasgow. “How about the Tenement museum?” Um. Never been. “What about a tour around the Glasgow School of Art?” Er…aside from the occasional gig I hadn’t been to the The Glasgow School of Art since getting a rejection to be a student there 15 years ago but I swear that it wasn’t me who burned down the Mackintosh building in revenge! It was the now demolished Newbery Tower where I submitted my portfolio anyway, and that has now been replaced by The Reid building, where you can undertake a Charles Rennie Mackintosh tour today. So although the main A-listed Mackintosh building was wrecked by fire in 2014, thankfully several items survived the flames and are now on display in the shiny new building across the road. The GSA visitor centre is in the ground floor of the Reid building, where you can just come in to browse the shop or book a tour, but booking in advance is recommended.

Tours are given by existing students of the GSA with the first stage of the tour taking place in front of a scale model of the Mackintosh building before proceeding upstairs…

Mackintosh GSA tour - Reid building shaft of light
There are three vertical light shafts in the building, described by the architects as “driven voids of light” they allow light to travel from the roof to the basement but also allow sound to travel in the other direction, meaning there’s always hub-bub, even when I visited on a Saturday. As it’s a working building you can only take photos at certain places and this is one of them!

The Mackintosh Room

Upstairs in the “Mackintosh Room” there is a collection of rare Mackintosh chairs, furniture and a master-slave clock system, of which there used to be many slave clocks in the GSA kept at the same time and maintained by a fairly simple master mechanism. There’s also a gesso panel on display, made by Margaret Macdonald who was Mackintosh’s wife and also a student of the art school.
Mackintosh GSA tour - Mackintosh clocks and chairs

Our guide gave us information about all the items in the room plus a bit of background to the man himself and the “Immortals”, the self-proclaimed name of the group of artists which included Mackintosh and his friends (they weren’t lacking in confidence where they?!)

Willow Tea Rooms

The Willow Tea Rooms is shamefully another place where I’ve never been, and the original Mackintosh-designed tea room on Sauchiehall Street is currently being renovated (Sauchiehall means “alley of the willows” in old Scots hence the name given to the cafe!) but you can still enjoy tea, cake and more in a Mackintosh-inspired cafe at their temporary location above Watt Brothers Ltd, or in the other The Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street.

If you can’t make it to either then you can still view a beautiful chair from the tea rooms here, made with a distinctive geometric lattice on a curved chair to create the pattern which resembles a willow tree. The supervisor of the tea room would sit on this chair and pass on orders from the waitresses to the kitchen.
Mackintosh GSA tour - Willow Tea Rooms chairThe Mackintosh at the GSA tour is recommended for art students, those with an interest in art or architecture and anyone visiting, or living in Glasgow.

Many thanks to GCMB for inviting me on the tour to promote the #PackMoreIn campaign.

Opening hours

The Window on Mackintosh visitor centre & GSA Shop are open 10am – 4.30pm, 7 days, all year round including bank holidays.

Mackintosh guided tours take place at 11am and 3pm,with the occasional 12pm and 1pm tour (check website for details). Tours cost £7 for adults, £5.75 for senior citizens and students and £3.50 for under 18s when booked in advance (all excluding credit card booking fee). The tour lasts for 45 minutes, simply pick your tickets up from the front desk at the Reid building on the day of the tour.

In addition to this tour there’s also a Reid building tour, a Mackintosh outdoor walking tour on Thursdays – Mondays 11:30am – 1:45pm May – October and a Creative Glasgow outdoor walking tour taking place on Saturdays from 2:30pm – 4:45pm May – September

Both waking tours take 2 hours 15 minutes costing £19.50 for adults, £16.00 for senior citizens and students, and £9.75 for under 18s (all excluding card booking fee again).

All tours begin at the The Window on Mackintosh visitor centre.


Mackintosh visitor centre, Glasgow School of Art- Reid Building, 164 Renfrew St, G3 6RF


telephone: 0141 353 4584

Public transport

Charing Cross is the nearest train station (8 min walk), Queen Street Station is 15 minutes walk away and the nearest subway station is Cowcaddens (8 min walk). Buses travelling south and east go along nearby Sauchiehall St while west-bound buses are on Bath St. Buses travelling north go up Hope St a short walk away.

Mr Foodie

Mr Foodie

Likes to travel, eat weird things and read three books at the same time.

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