Series GSAA/DIR/13 - Papers of Sir Harry Jefferson Barnes, Director of Glasgow School of Art

Key Information

Reference code



Papers of Sir Harry Jefferson Barnes, Director of Glasgow School of Art


  • 1930-1979 (Creation)

Level of description



19 linear metres

Content and Structure

Scope and content

DATA PROTECTION NOTICE: This collection contains sensitive information about individuals that is protected by the Data Protection Act. Until this material has been checked for sensitive information the collection will not be available for researchers. Once this Data Protection work is complete, the collection will be open for access with sensitive information closed for 75 years from its date of creation. The papers and correspondence of Sir Harry Jefferson Barnes, Director of the Glasgow School of Art 1964-1980. The material has been thematically arranged into the sub-series below based on the filing system of Barnes. Sub-series as follows: DIR/13/1: General Correspondence of Harry J Barnes, 1964-1976 DIR/13/2: Operational and Reporting Papers, 1964-1976 DIR/13/3: Course Validation, Review, and Funding Bodies, 1964-1979 DIR/13/4: Departments and Courses, 1952-1979 DIR/13/5: Diploma Papers, 1957-1975 DIR/13/6: Prizes, Competitions and Scholarships, 1958-1976 DIR/13/7: Papers Relating to Students, c1964-1977 DIR/13/8: Papers Relating to Staff, 1945-1977 DIR/13/9: Committee Papers and Correspondence, 1964-1978 DIR/13/10: Estates and Building Developments, 1957-1978 DIR/13/11: Gifts to Glasgow School of Art, 1966-1972 DIR/13/12: Art Residencies and Summer Schools, 1958-1979 DIR/13/13: Events, 1964-1977 DIR/13/14: Invitations to the Director, 1964-1974 DIR/13/15: The Committee of Principals and Directors of Central (Art) Institutions, 1959-1978 DIR/13/16: Correspondence with other Higher Education Institutions, 1964-1978 DIR/13/17: Affiliations with other Bodies and Organisations, 1960-1979 DIR/13/18: Craft Initiatives and Committees, 1964-1978 DIR/13/19: Papers relating to Professional Practice and the Teaching of Art, 1955-1978 DIR/13/20: Barnes' Working Papers Pre-dating his Term as Director, 1930-1960 DIR/13/21: Artworks and Designs, c1950s-1970s

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.


System of arrangement

This material has been arranged into thematic series according to the themed folders Barnes kept his papers within.

Some papers are then arranged into further thematic sub-series and within, folders are arranged chronologically, according to the earliest material within each folder.

Within the folders, letters and papers tend to be in reverse-chronological order.

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

Harry Jefferson Barnes was born on 3 April 1915 and grew up in Sheffield where his father was a professor at the University. He was educated at Repton School and went on to study at the Slade under Randolph Schwabe. He took the Diploma in Fine Art and was awarded a post-graduate scholarship which he used to study Stage Design. Barnes then spent the greater part of 1937-1938 travelling in Europe studying the teaching of art and this culminated in a report on the teaching of art in primary schools.
After teaching for some years in secondary schools, Barnes took up duties as Assistant Master in Painting & Drawing at Glasgow School of Art on 4 January 1944. In 1946, on the retirement of Henry Alison and with Douglas Bliss taking up the Directorship, Barnes was promoted to Deputy Director and Registrar, a newly created post.
He was appointed Director when Bliss retired in 1964 and oversaw many developments. One of his major achievements was the setting up of the Mackintosh School of Architecture in 1965 in collaboration with Sir Charles Wilson at the University of Glasgow. Another achievement was the lease of buildings at Culzean Castle for the use of the School. Throughout the seventies students and staff stayed for a week at a time to study and be inspired by the natural environment. He oversaw massive extension at Renfrew Street with the building of the Foulis Building, the Newbery Tower and the laying of the foundations of the Bourdon Building.
Barnes' time as Director was one of significant academic development, which paved the way to the present workings of the School. For example in 1978 the old Diploma courses were replaced by Degree courses. His own personal interest in stage design was shown in the part he played in promoting and managing many of the student's plays at Glasgow School of Art. He was also a set designer for the Glasgow Grand Opera Society.
During the fifties and the sixties, interests in Scotland gravitated to the crafts and Barnes was involved in the creation of the Scottish Crafts Centre Edinburgh and was appointed Convener of the Panel of Assessors who judged the work submitted to the Centre. He also represented the Scottish Crafts Centre as a member of the Joint Crafts Committee. He was then invited by the Secretary of State to be a member of the Consultative Curriculum for six years and, arising out of this, was invited to act as Chairman for the Working Party looking at the teaching of art in secondary schools. The Report from this, Curriculum No. 9, was published.
Barnes was influential in setting up the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, of which he was Chairman for many years. In conjunction with John Noble, Barnes acquired the Edinburgh Tapestry Company in 1955 at The Dovecot Studios and assisted in running it. Barnes also served on the Saltire Society and the National Trust and was on the board of the Citizens Theatre. He received an honorary MA from the University of Glasgow in 1966 and an honorary LLD from the same university in 1980. He had been appointed CBE in 1971 and was knighted in 1980.
Barnes had a personal and proffessional friendship with Randolph Schwabe, whom he studied under at the Slade, and who recommended him for the post of Assistant Master in Painting and Drawing at Glasgow School of Art. He married Schwabe's daughter Alice in 1941. Barnes retired from Glasgow School of Art in 1980 to his home in Argyll. He died on 31 May 1982 after a long illness.

Archival history

Custodial history

Physical Description and Conditions of Use

Conditions governing access

Directors' papers which are over 30 years old are available for public consultation. Permission from the director is needed for access to those less than 30 years old.

Some papers contain sensitive information and will be closed for 75 years in line with Data Protection legislation. These items will be identified and closed.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical Description

Finding aids

Related Material

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related materials

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)



Place access points

People and Organisations

Genre access points


Level of detail

Processing information

  • Papers of Harry Barnes have been re-arranged and catalogued by R Jones, Assistant Archivist: Cataloguing, Apr-Sep 2018.




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organisations

Related genres

Related places