As the saying goes, there’s a first for everything and this year is definitely a good year for firsts in Dundee. Having built a reputation over the last two centuries as a hub for innovation, the city has just been officially recognised by the United Nations as a UNESCO City of Design – the first in the UK to be awarded the honour.
Dundee has certainly made its mark on the world with contributions to a diverse range of fields; from medical research, including the development of aspirin in 1876, to the computer gaming industry, popular comics and more. It will now be in the company of the likes of Berlin, Beijing, Buenos Aires and Montreal.
To celebrate the prestigious title being awarded to the city, we’ve come up with top tips of things to see and do in our City of Design.
The V&A and McManus museums
The new V&A Museum of Design Dundee, tipped to be open by 2017, will be the focal point of the city’s new waterfront. The first to be built in the UK outside of London, it will be dedicated specifically to Scotland’s outstanding design heritage.
If you can’t wait that long, the McManus Art Gallery and Museum in Albert Square will play host to travelling Victoria & Albert Museum exhibitions until the new site opens. The McManus needs no excuse to visit. Housed within a splendid Gothic Revival-style building in the very heart of the city, the museum boasts eight galleries crammed full of exhibits about the history of Dundee as well as fine art and world cultures.
If you can’t make it to the McManus to see the travelling exhibitions, they just might come to you. ‘Design in Motion’, a “travelling gallery” will visit 78 venues across Scotland’s cities and rural areas over 17 weeks in 2015, bringing artefacts and exhibits destined for the new V&A Dundee.
The Women’s Trail
The women of Dundee deserve credit more than most for their contribution to the city’s heritage. The Women’s Trail celebrates them in true style with plaques honouring their work on or near places of interest connected with their lives. You’ll discover the likes of Margaret Fairlie, who first pioneered the use of radium to treat cancer, and Janet Keiller, the 18th century creator of the first chip marmalade.
The Beano and The Dandy
The loveable rogues of some of the world’s most recognisable comic strips were born and raised in Dundee. Dennis the Menace, Desperate Dan and the Bash Street Kids first came to life on the pages of DC Thomson comic books. Head to City Square and the newly-renamed Bash Street – a laneway off Dundee’s West Marketgait – to take a selfie with larger-than-life characters from The Beano and The Dandy.
One city, many discoveries
As well as design and innovation, Dundee has a tradition of discovery and exploration. The RRS Discovery, the vessel that took explorer Captain Scott on his first polar expedition to Antarctica, was designed and built in the city’s shipyards. In another first for Dundee, the ship was the first built specifically for scientific research. You can take a tour of the vessel, including all the quarters below deck, to find out more about Scott’s ground-breaking expedition.
High above the city on Balgay Hill, the Mill’s Observatory remains the only one built in the UK with the sole aim of encouraging public interest in science. Free to visit, the observatory has regular planetarium shows, astronomical displays and more, letting you explore space at your leisure.
For inspiration on things to see and do in Dundee & Angus, visit our website to find out more.