V&A Dundee opened its doors for the first time to the public on Saturday, September 15. Its beautiful, light-filled interiors designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma have been revealed for the first time.
As Scotland’s first design museum, V&A Dundee tells a global story, investigating the international importance of design alongside presenting Scotland’s outstanding design achievements.
V&A Dundee’s construction and fit-out took three and a half years to complete and it 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 north-east coast of Scotland, it stretches out into the River Tay – a new landmark connecting the city with its historic waterfront, and a new major cultural development for Scotland and the UK.
At the heart of the museum the Scottish Design Galleries feature 300 exhibits drawn from the V&A’s rich collections of Scottish design, as well as from museums and private collections across Scotland and the world.
At the centre of these galleries stands the magnificent Charles Rennie Mackintosh Oak Room meticulously restored, conserved and reconstructed through a partnership between V&A Dundee, Glasgow Museums and Dundee City Council. Visitors to the museum will be able to experience once again Mackintosh’s extraordinary talent in designing this room, lost to view for nearly 50 years.
The ambitious international exhibition programme opens with Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, organised by the V&A and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, the first exhibition to explore the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale. Major exhibitions are complemented by new commissions and installations including This, looped by Glasgow-based artist and former Turner prize nominee Ciara Phillips.
Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee, said: “The opening of V&A Dundee is a historic occasion for Dundee, for the V&A, and for the very many people who played a vital part and supported its realisation. This is a very proud moment for all involved.
“V&A Dundee’s aspiration is to enrich lives, helping people to enjoy, be inspired by and find new opportunities through understanding the designed world. After years of planning, we are thrilled at being able to celebrate the realisation of the first V&A museum in the world outside London.
“The museum’s light-filled wooden interior and impressive spaces inside have been designed to provide a warm welcome to visitors, described by architect Kengo Kuma as a ‘living room for the city’. We are all very excited indeed that we can now welcome everybody into this remarkable new museum.”
Kengo Kuma, architect of V&A Dundee, said: “The big idea for V&A Dundee was bringing together nature and architecture, to create a new living room for the city. I’m truly in love with the Scottish landscape and nature. I was inspired by the cliffs of north-eastern Scotland – it’s as if the earth and water had a long conversation and finally created this stunning shape.
"It is also fitting that the restored Oak Room by Charles Rennie Mackintosh is at the heart of this building as I have greatly admired his designs since I was a student. In the Oak Room, people will feel his sensibility and respect for nature, and hopefully connect it with our design for V&A Dundee.
“I hope the museum can change the city and become its centre of gravity. I am delighted and proud that this is my first building in the UK and that people will visit it from around the world.”
The delivery of V&A Dundee has been overseen by the innovative founding partnership of the V&A, Dundee City Council, the University of Dundee, Abertay University and Scottish Enterprise. The £80.11m project was funded by the Scottish Government, The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland, Dundee City Council, the UK Government, Scottish Enterprise, University of Dundee, Abertay University and a successful private fundraising campaign which is now complete.
Dundee City Council Leader, Councillor John Alexander said: “V&A Dundee is the perfect illustration of how the city is forging a new path and being transformed for every resident, worker and visitor. We are not a city which limits its ambitions and there is much more to come from our creative and dynamic city.
“We are predicting an economic boost in the city, estimated in the region of £11.6 million a year and the creation of 361 extra jobs across Scotland, 249 of which will be in Dundee. We also anticipate a significant number of other indirect benefits in terms of jobs and investment from new enterprise, business and increasing footfall in the city.
“V&A Dundee presents a unique and major opportunity for the city of Dundee, the contribution it will make to realising the council's ambitions and strategies for the city are hugely significant and its completion and opening represent the result of much determined effort over a ten-year period by the council and its partners.”
Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: “This cultural milestone for the city of Dundee is also a landmark moment in V&A history – we’re extremely proud to share in this exceptional partnership, the first of its kind in the UK, and to have helped establish a new international centre for design that celebrates Scotland’s cultural heritage.”
V&A Dundee has now successfully completed its capital funding programme, the most ambitious of its kind in Scotland, and will now focus on funding the museum’s exciting exhibitions and learning programmes.
Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Today the spotlight is on Scotland, and Dundee, as cultural organisations across the globe look on in awe at what has been achieved. For a small country, Scotland has an incredibly rich design heritage with creativity, innovations and inventions that have changed lives across the world.
“Thanks to £19 million of funding from The National Lottery, we now have a spectacular, world-class museum which is a beacon for those incredible achievements and an inspiration for the future of design.”
V&A Dundee is free to enter and open daily from 10.00 to 17.00.
“V&A Dundee is a powerful symbol of Dundee’s new confidence and a major addition to Scotland’s world-class collection of museums and visitor attractions. As the flagship of Dundee’s waterfront development, the museum will act as a magnet for the city’s regeneration, attracting inward investment and tourism, and creating new jobs and opportunities beyond the construction phase.
“The Scottish Government was an early supporter of the plans for V&A Dundee. I am proud that we have provided £38 million towards the construction of the building and committed an extra £361,000 in 2018-19 to support its first year of activity. The museum will be a valuable asset in both cultural and economic terms for decades to come.”
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “Quite simply, V&A Dundee is the biggest addition to Scotland’s cultural scene this century.
“It is a hugely exciting project – an instantly iconic new building on Dundee’s waterfront housing a treasure trove of artefacts.
“I’ve no doubt it will draw millions of people from Scotland and around the globe in the years to come and I am as excited as anyone at the prospect of seeing it for the first time.
“The UK Government provided £5million to help deliver the project. As V&A Dundee prepares to open, I’d like to congratulate everyone involved and wish this spectacular new space every success in future.”