V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design museum, will open to the public on Saturday 15 September. It will be the only V&A museum in the world outside London, “an international centre for design, a place of inspiration, discovery and learning,” it said in a statement. “Visitors to V&A Dundee will experience the remarkable story of design past, present and future, and the vital contribution design makes to all our lives.”
Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, V&A Dundee stands at the centre of the £1 billion transformation of the Dundee waterfront, once part of the city’s docklands. “With its complex geometry, inspired by the dramatic cliffs along the east coast of Scotland, it stretches out into the River Tay – a new landmark reconnecting the city with its historic waterfront, and a major new cultural development for Scotland and the UK.”
The museum will feature permanent galleries of Scottish design, as well as an international programme of changing exhibitions showcasing the best of design from around the world, new design commissions, fast-changing installations by emerging designers and creative projects developed through the museum’s learning programme for all audiences.
At the heart of V&A Dundee, the Scottish Design Galleries will tell the story of Scotland’s international design heritage. Curated in collaboration with the V&A, these galleries will be free to enter and feature around 300 exhibits drawn from the V&A’s, as well as from museums and private collections across Scotland and the world, covering architecture, ceramics, engineering, fashion, furniture, healthcare, jewellery, textiles, videogame design and more.
At the centre of these galleries will stand Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s magnificent Oak Room, fully restored and preserved for future generations in a partnership with Glasgow Life. The 13.5-metre-long panelled room was originally designed for Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street tearooms in Glasgow in 1907, before being saved – and placed in storage in hundreds of pieces – almost 50 years ago.
Other key objects in the Scottish Design Galleries will include a beautifully decorated 15th century Book of Hours, a spectacular Cartier ‘Valkyrie’ diamond tiara, original Beano artworks from Dundee publishers DC Thomson, and the snap40 digital device which is designed to improve healthcare.
The new museum enables V&A’s most ambitious exhibitions to be shared more widely across the UK, said the museum. The opening exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed & Style, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and investment managers Baillie Gifford, will explore the designs behind a mode of transport that came to represent the status of nations and the aspirations of millions.
The show, organised by the V&A and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, is the first to explore the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale. It will re-imagine the golden age of ocean travel and explore all aspects of ship design from the remarkable engineering, architecture and interiors to the opulent fashion and lifestyle on board. Further exhibition announcements will be made ahead of the museum’s opening.
The temporary exhibitions and permanent galleries will be complemented by new commissions and installations, supporting and showcasing emerging design talent.
Turner Prize-nominated artist Ciara Phillips has been commissioned to produce a new work in response to the V&A’s remarkable collections of Scottish design. Drawing on research into textile histories and Scottish ceramic production, this site-specific installation will welcome visitors as they reach the upper floor of the museum, before entering the galleries.
The Michelin Design Gallery will showcase contemporary design talent, starting with an exhibition of V&A Dundee’s pre-opening national project, the Scottish Design Relay, presenting design prototypes created by young people in communities across Scotland from Orkney to Govan.
The museum will also include dynamic learning spaces to accommodate visitors of all ages and backgrounds to learn from and participate in design creativity, a design residency studio where designers will share work-in-progress with visitors, a multi-purpose auditorium for conferences, design jams and community events, and a restaurant with spectacular views from its open terrace over RRS Discovery and the River Tay.
Philip Long, director of V&A Dundee, said: “After many years of planning for V&A Dundee, we are absolutely thrilled to announce the date of the new museum’s opening.
“In just eight months we will be opening the doors and welcoming our first visitors. V&A Dundee is set to be a vital new cultural organisation for Dundee, the UK and beyond, helping to change understanding of just how important design and creativity are to people’s lives. We are enormously grateful to all our supporters for helping to make this happen.
“V&A Dundee brings something new to Scotland. It is the country’s first museum dedicated to design, which visitors will be able to experience and get involved with in very many ways. Particularly important is that the new museum enables major V&A exhibitions to be seen more widely by more people across the UK.
“So I am especially excited that part of V&A Dundee’s opening programme will be the breath-taking exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed & Style, the first of many ambitious exhibitions at V&A Dundee that will show how our lives have been – and always will be – shaped by design.”
V&A Dundee is being delivered by a founding partnership of the V&A, Dundee City Council, the University of Dundee, Abertay University and Scottish Enterprise.
Dundee City Council leader Councillor John Alexander said: “Our city is now receiving high-profile international attention and confirmation of the opening date for V&A Dundee will boost this further.”
V&A Dundee has been established in close partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, drawing on its collections, curatorial expertise and exhibitions. It is run independently with its own director and, as well as bringing V&A exhibitions to Scotland, it will develop its own exhibitions.
Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, said: “The opening of V&A Dundee this year will be a remarkable moment for Dundee, the V&A and the UK. The V&A was founded to champion British design, showcase the greatest works of creative ingenuity and enrich everyone’s imagination.
“V&A Dundee will build on our deep connections to the story of Scottish design and its meaning for modern practitioners, sharing our collections and world-class exhibitions. This is a cultural milestone for Dundee and a new opportunity for the UK to show the world how art and design can educate and inspire.”
V&A Dundee is being developed with support from the Scottish Government, Heritage Lottery Fund, Dundee City Council, the UK Government, Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, University of Dundee, Abertay University and many trusts and private donors.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: “V&A Dundee will be a major addition to Scotland’s already strong collection of museums and visitor attractions. It is the flagship of Dundee’s waterfront development, and will act as a magnet for the city’s regeneration, attracting inward investment and tourism, not to mention the jobs created during the construction phase and beyond.”
Seona Reid, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland Committee, added: “The opening of this important new design museum is a major milestone for Dundee and for Scotland. Thanks to £14.1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, awarding support from the National Lottery, this striking building will also mark a further new chapter in the economic regeneration of Dundee.”
Picture: Ross Fraser McLean.