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V&A Dundee – Scotland’s First Design Museum

V&A Dundee is Scotland’s first design museum and one of the world’s most anticipated cultural attractions. It opened its door to the world on Saturday 15 September 2018, inviting visitors to experience an incredible atmosphere of innovation, creativity and fascinating exhibitions.

There are many fascinating and unique aspects of this astonishing museum, but here are just six facts that will give you a flavour of what to expect!

V&A Dundee is the only V&A museum in the world outside London and has become the global home for Scotland’s design heritage. The museum gives you an introduction to over 500 years of brilliance, ingenuity and achievement in Scottish creativity and the best examples of design from around the world. It’s genius galore!

Designed by internationally acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, nearly 2,500 cast-stone panels form the sculptural façade of this giant museum, which features walls that curve both vertically and horizontally – a true architectural masterpiece. Its complex geometry is inspired by the dramatic cliffs along the east coast of Scotland, and we can see why.

Literally anchored in the River Tay, the museum is a new landmark that reconnects Dundee with its historic waterfront.

What to expect

John Byrne’ giant pop-up book © Michael McGurk

V&A Dundee features permanent galleries of Scottish designs, as well as international programme of changing exhibitions.

Scottish Design Galleries

In the Scottish Design Galleries expect to see everything from iconic objects to works that have never been seen before.

Whether you are into design or just looking for a family adventure, you can explore around 300 exhibits drawn from the remarkable collections of the V&A, as well as from museums and private collections across Scotland and the world.

Not only do the galleries have displays covering architecture, engineering, fashion and furniture, but also ceramics, healthcare, jewellery, textiles, video game design and more.

We might not have the monopoly on design, but some of Scotland’s creations are amongst the most unique in the world!

Top things to see

  • Get ready to be inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s magnificent Oak Room, a 13.5 m long panelled room which is being fully restored and preserved for future generations. It was originally designed for Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street tearooms in Glasgow in 1907 – and placed in storage in hundreds of pieces almost 50 years ago.
  • See one of the first Speedo swimsuits ever made. The pioneering costume – revealing and controversial by the standards of that time – was designed by a Scotsman, Alexander MacRae, who emigrated to Australia.
  • Marvel at a giant pop-up book that measures more than 3 x 4 m when open. Designed and painted by Scottish artist John Byrne in 1973, the book is made up of five- pop-up scenes, including a Highland landscape and a croft house. It was the original stage set for The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil play about the history of the Highlands.

Other key objects in the Scottish Design Galleries include a beautifully decorated 15th century Book of Hours, a spectacular Cartier ‘Valkyrie’ diamond tiara, original Beano artwork from Dundee publishers DC Thomson, and the snap40 digital device which is designed to improve healthcare.

Michelin Design Gallery

At the Michelin Design Gallery you will find displays of installations by emerging designers. Fittingly, given that this year Scotland celebrates the Year of Young People, the first up is a Scottish Design Relay exhibition, presenting design prototypes created by young people. Don’t miss it!

The opening weekend

3D Festival

Be Charlotte

Be Charlotte

To celebrate the museum opening, there was a two-day 3D Festival full of design, music and performance, co-designed by V&A Dundee’s Young People’s Collective and took place in the new, creative space of Slessor Gardens. Headlining the festival on Friday 14 September were psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll band Primal Scream, and singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi, Dundee’s very own Be Charlotte and many others joined them. Then on Saturday 15, there were a whole host of creative talent to see from across the city, including up-and-coming musicians, choral collaborations, and specially designed hands-on makerspace workshops. The event was free and not ticketed so everyone had the chance to get involved.


The museum’s opening exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed & Style explores the designs behind a mode of transport that came to represent the status of nations and the aspirations of millions. It re-imagined 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. All aboard?

Dundee, Scotland’s City of Design

V&A Dundee © Ross Fraser McLean

V&A Dundee © Ross Fraser McLean

Adding to an already existing wealth of amazing attractions and museums, the opening of V&A Dundee made this coastal city, which already proudly wears the title of UNESCO City of Design, the place to be. Make sure to include Dundee in your holiday itinerary for 2019 and beyond.

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