THE organisers of a major festive event held at Kelvingrove Art Gallery that attracted thousands of complaints were hit with several restrictions before it opened, e-mails reveal. 

Elfingrove, which ran for 25 nights, was billed as a “spell-binding” night-time tour of the museum using state of the art technology, sound, and lighting.

However, heavily redacted emails seen by the Glasgow Times show organisers Itison had to deal with “multiple challenges” before museum bosses gave permission for the event to run, which suggests that the original plan may have been more ambitious. 

The emails show that the organisers were told the event could not have Pyro, gas or chemicals including dry ice and helium or flaring or flashing lights in the venue. They were also asked to drop a feature called the “kissing sculpture”.

Objects could not be fixed directly into the stonework and there were concerns over the risk of fire with the high level of electrical equipment being used and the impact on day visitors.

However, the e-mails also reveal there are plans to host a second event this year.

Glasgow Times:

We previously revealed that the showpiece Christmas event was described by some angry spectators as little more than a tour of the museum with the lights off. A petition demanding refunds for everyone who bought tickets, which were priced £18.50 for adults, was signed by more than 1700 people.

Itison, which is owned by businessman Oli Norman, was also pre-warned that lights could not be shone directly at the collections, which include works by Monet, Degas and Vincent Van Gogh and advice was sought from conservation experts.

A freedom of information request by the Glasgow Times shows the company was told days before the event opened that a particular feature posed a threat to the art.

Glasgow Life writes: “In the Scottish Gallery, which include artworks and textiles, the moving green and red light pattern includes some persistent green  and red dots.

“They stay focussed on the same spot for a considerable time. Over the many hours of the event this could result in some light damage.”

Glasgow Times:

Itison, which also hosts GlasGLOW event at the Botanic Gardens, was also warned that light levels in walkways were too dark and could result in a fall or damage to the collection.

We asked Glasgow Life for a copy of all written correspondence with organisers Itison. Much of the information about the full plans and the contract between Itison and Glasgow Life was withheld because it was deemed “commercially sensitive” or a security risk.

The production team is described as “world-class” in emails to Glasgow Life with experience of international events including Celtic Connections and Edinburgh Hogmanay.

Glasgow Times:

Itison added extra dates in October after 120 tickets sold out in 24 hours and emails show 30% of people attending the event came from outside Glasgow.  Glasgow Life refused to give out detailed floor plans, safety and security arrangements and risk assessments, stating: “We are of the view that there is realistic potential for information relating to safety and security arrangements to be utilised in the perpetration of a malicious act and, therefore, endanger the physical or mental health of individuals who may attend Kelvingrove.” 

Details of the insurance policy, the contract between the organisers and Glasgow Life and pricing information was also withheld because of the risk it could “substantially prejudice negotiations for future events”.

Other information was held back because Glasgow Life said it could impact on any potential legal proceedings.

The Glasgow Times contacted Itison’s media representative for comment but did not receive a response.

A spokesman for Glasgow Life said:  “Anyone looking to use Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has to submit their Event Management Plan in advance so they can be advised what is and isn’t possible.

"This is exactly the process Itison went through with the Elfingrove event. This is in order that all events can be delivered in accordance with Glasgow Life’s operational and infrastructure requirements to protect the collection, the building and the public.

"The safety of everyone who visits Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the safety of precious objects on display are our highest priorities when we are approached for any use of the building as a venue.”