Scotland’s Rich Design Heritage Showcased in New V&A Dundee Museum

V&A Dundee, Scotland
V&A Dundee, Scotland | © Ross Fraser McLean / Courtesy of V&A Dundee
Tori Chalmers

For some misshapen reason, Dundee has long been painted as one of Scotland’s underdog cities with its design heritage limited to its past of jute, jam and journalism. That is until now.

After being crowned the UK’s first-ever City of Design by UNESCO and recently voted one of the 10 Best European Destinations to Visit by Lonely Planet, this dynamic city is just getting started.

With the new £80.1m V&A Museum at the core of the city’s £1bn waterfront redevelopment, it’s clear that Dundee is finally being thrown the flowers she so deserves.

V&A Dundee

Opening on Saturday, September 15, 2018, V&A Dundee is the world’s only V&A Museum outside London. Set to serve as an international beacon for design through the ages, not just in Scotland but across the globe, the surplus of game-changing exhibitions will flood visitors with a wealth of design knowledge while showcasing the profound impact that design has on every aspect of our everyday lives.

V&A Dundee

A contemporary design palace of extraordinary engineering, the museum building extends into the sterling silver River Tay as a way of rekindling the city’s close relationship with its historic waterfront.

Internationally celebrated Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who is also designing the National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, modelled his work around the dramatic contoured cliffs that frame Scotland’s east coast.

Architect Kengo Kuma visits completed V&A Dundee in Scotland
V&A Dundee

Standing centre stage will be the Scottish Design Galleries. Free to enter, these galleries showcase around 300 objects pulled from the outstanding V&A collections, as well as from numerous private collections and museums across Scotland.

One major highlight is the Oak Room by Glaswegian golden boy Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Restored to perfection and preserved for the future, this 13.5-metre-long (44.2 feet) panelled room was crafted in 1907 for Miss Cranston’s famous tearooms on Ingram Street in Glasgow. After spending almost five decades stored away in pieces, this beauty can finally shine in Dundee.

Sketch of the Oak Room by Charles Rennie Mackintosh / Scottish Design Galleries, V&A Dundee

Other key pieces include a resplendent ‘Valkyrie’ diamond tiara, original Beano artworks by famous Dundee publishers DC Thomson, an exquisite Book of Hours from the 15th century and the snap40 digital contraption said to vastly improve healthcare.

Image of the Book of Hours, known as the ‘Playfair Hours’, made in Rouen, France

The opening exhibition, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, delves deep into the golden age of ocean travel from the engineering elements to the architecture, grand interiors and even the lifestyle and fashions on board.

No design museum would be complete without acknowledging the great minds of the future, and so the Michelin Design Gallery will carve a platform for the world’s contemporary design minds. And while Scotland’s innovative status and rich design heritage will shape a large portion of the exhibitions, it’s not the only talent in store.

V&A Dundee, Scotland
V&A Dundee

Exhibitions and permanent displays centred around architecture, ceramics, engineering, fashion, furniture, healthcare, jewellery, textiles and video game design from across the globe will pepper every surface of the space-age structure.

Importantly, with the arrival of V&A Dundee comes a spectacular cultural revival and priceless opportunity for the city to once again show the world its vast worth and unwavering creative spirit.

Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, said, ‘V&A Dundee will build on our deep connections of 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
V&A Dundee

1. V&A Dundee

Building, Museum

V&A Dundee
© Ross Fraser McLean / Courtesy of V and A Dundee

The fact that V&A Dundee rose to international status before it even opened its doors in 2018 is a testament to the calibre of innovation that awaits inside. As the world’s only V&A Museum outside London, this must-visit museum is the flagship of Dundee’s impressive £1bn waterfront redevelopment. Extending out to the glistening Tay waters, the space-age building is the work of internationally acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who sought inspiration from Scotland’s brood of dramatic cliffs. Between the Scottish Design Galleries chock-full of around 300 objects and the wealth of international exhibitions, V&A Dundee illustrates Scotland’s extensive design story through the ages, along with showcasing the best in art and design worldwide.

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