Tom Inns. Photo: The National.

Glasgow School of Art Director Tom Inns Steps Down

Five months after a devastating fire gutted the Mackintosh Building at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) for the second time, the institution’s director, Tom Inns, has resigned. The school will be led by deputy directors Irene McAra-McWilliam and Ken Neil until his successor is appointed.

“Glasgow School of Art is an exceptional place, in stepping down I will miss the creative energy of staff and students enormously, and I wish you all well as the institution approaches its 175th birthday in 2020,” Inns said in a statement. “Since the fire in June 2018, just months before the building was to be handed back to GSA, we’ve worked tirelessly to stabilize the building as quickly as possible to minimize disruption to our local community, and to reopen our own campus for the new academic year. . . . It is now time for a new director to work with the board to deliver the future vision for GSA.”

During his five-year tenure at the institution, Inns led the school through the aftermath of two fires. The first, which was started by a spark from a projector in May 2014, destroyed much of the building’s renowned Mackintosh library. The second blaze engulfed the Mackintosh Building in June. In the months following the second fire, the Glasgow City Council and the school faced growing criticism over how it managed the crisis. Residents and businesses were unable to return to their properties for months and have accused the council of not acting quickly enough to secure the area. The investigation into the second fire is still ongoing.

In addition to working toward rebuilding the Mackintosh, Inns oversaw the opening of the $40 million Reid Building, which houses the School of Design, and the development of the $28 million Stow Building. Comprising new studios and workshops for the School of Fine Art, the latter facility is slated to open in June 2019. Under Inns’s leadership, the school also collaborated with local colleges and other institutions on various projects and prioritized recruiting more students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Commenting on Inns’s departure, Muriel Gray, the chair of the board of governors, said: “On behalf of the GSA board and all at the school I would like to wish Tom all the very best for the future. He has had the most challenging tenure at the helm of GSA and we are truly grateful for all his enormous commitment and hard work—especially over the course of the past few months.”

While the school plans to reconstruct the Mackintosh Building—Gray told The Herald that it would be “as Mackintosh designed it, to the millimeter”—Scottish parliament held a hearing of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee in September to determine if GSA is still fit to manage the project. During the event, former staffer Eileen Reid called for the school to step aside and let an independent panel of experts assume responsibility for the Mackintosh Building. In response, a GSA representative told Glasgow Live that the hearing was designed to gather information and that it will participate in any future hearings on the fate of the school.