How do you get the world to sit up and take notice of one of your smaller cities? Well, securing the honour of hosting the first V&A museum outside of London is a pretty good start.
When the Dundee Partnership first began creating a masterplan to re-integrate the central waterfront area with the city centre, they could never have imagined the transformation that's taken place.
Gaining approval in 2001, the partnership seeks to realise the exceptional opportunity provided by Dundee's waterfront and they created a vision for the area that had a distinct identity and sense of place, with a framework for future investment.
The groundwork over the first decade culminated in the announcement in 2009 of the V&A Dundee, the first Victoria and Albert Museum of Design outside of London - an exciting proposition for this east coast city which sits on the Tay estuary. The project moved on, with an international design competition set up to find the right architect. The following year, in 2010, world-renowned Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, was announced as the prestigious winner.
Speaking in 2016, a year after construction of the V&A began, Kuma said:
"We are delighted that our vision for the V&A Dundee building, which was originally inspired by the beautiful River Tay setting, is now starting to take physical shape. I am very proud to be part of this exciting development for the city of Dundee and Scotland and to be creating a museum that will inspire people to visit from the UK and beyond".
Scotland’s first design museum is the global home of our country’s design heritage. The museum gives an insight into over 500 years of brilliance, ingenuity and achievement in Scottish creativity as well as the best examples of design from around the world. Unsurprisingly, people from around Scotland - and further afield - have been flocking to the new attraction. The museum's target of 500,000 visitors in the first year was amazingly smashed in only six months!
The opening of V&A Dundee has also had a knock-on effect on other Dundee cultural attractions. Figures released by the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA), showed a 42% increase in the number of visitors to Discovery Point and a 21% increase at Verdant Works. Other attractions in the region, including Arbroath Abbey and Barry Mill also recorded significant increases.
There's a reason that Dundee is recognised as the UK's first UNESCO City of Design. Throughout the centuries, it has seamlessly transitioned from one industry to the next, continually keeping its finger on the pulse of what's happening. From being the world's largest exporter of jute fabric during the 1800s, to being the home of Grand Theft Auto, one of the world's biggest video games, and everything in between - Dundee has always been ready to embrace new ideas.
Nearly 2,500 cast-stone panels form the sculptural façade of this waterfront museum. The complex geometry was inspired by the dramatic cliffs along the nearby east coast of Scotland and its beautiful location reconnects Dundee with its historic waterfront.
V&A Dundee will feature permanent galleries of Scottish design and an international programme of changing exhibitions.
The central waterfront of Dundee is the focal point of the project and also involves a new street pattern, a lovely green civic space, a modern rebuilt train station, new hotels and new commercial, leisure and residential outlets to support the expanding city.
Dundee was named one of the top 10 hot destinations in 2018 by the Wall Street Journal and the coolest little city in Britain by GQ Magazine.
Dundee’s new Victoria & Albert Museum of Design (V&A) – the first to be opened outside of London – is the centrepiece of a £1bn waterfront regeneration scheme. It’s hoped that the stunning new building can do for Dundee what the Guggenheim Museum did for the Spanish city of Bilbao.
Dundee is a great venue for culture, with Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee Rep, and numerous independent shops and galleries. A top destination for families, the city has a range of attractions including the McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum, Dundee Science Centre, and two floating museums, the RRS Discovery and the HM Unicorn.
It’s also the perfect base for exploring the neighbouring regions of Angus along the east coast, Fife which sits south across the river, and Perthshire to the north and west.