The Flying Carpet And The Unicorn

Two exhibitions open this week featuring significant loans from the Burrell Collection. With a medieval tapestry depicting a mythical unicorn and one of the world’s rarest carpets flying over 3,000 miles to the United States, the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, is set to enchant audiences this summer in Paris and New York.

Mysterious, enchanting... the idea of the unicorn has, in history, provoked many myths and legends. It is even one of the symbols of the United Kingdom, alongside the golden lion. Since the 16th century, the unicorn has been an object of fascination. Magical Unicorns testifies to the way in which artists through the ages have been captured by this legendary animal through sculpture, carving, tapestry, photography and video.

Taking place at the Musée de Cluny, Paris, Magical Unicorns explores late medieval perceptions and depictions of unicorns. One of the highlights of the exhibition is Burrell’s Hunt of the Unicorn, a 16th-century tapestry that has not been shown in public since 1969, which depicts a white unicorn driven by the Angel Gabriel. 

Over the Atlantic, one of the earliest surviving garden carpets in the world is being displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Wagner Garden Carpet dates from the late 17th century and its design is unique; no other examples resembling it or using part of its base-pattern have yet been identified. Eternal Springtime: A Persian Garden Carpet from the Burrell Collection provides a rare opportunity for visitors to see this beautiful and priceless artefact. 


Both exhibitions take place whilst the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, undergoes an estimated £66 million refurbishment of its building and redisplay of its extensive Collection, looking to reopen in 2020.

Blog post by Jessica Edney

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