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Dundee: the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design

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Having built a reputation over the last two centuries as a hub for innovation  and known as ‘One City Many Discoveries’, Dundee  is 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 is also in the company of the likes of Berlin, Beijing, Buenos Aires and Montreal with this UNESCO accolade.

In recognition of  this prestigious title awarded to the city, we’ve come up with some tips of things to see and do in our City of Design… but there’s plenty more to discover.

The V&A and McManus museums

The new V&A Dundee, opening 15 September 2018, 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.

The McManus Art Gallery and Museum, or ‘McMenace’ as it is known at present to celebrate 80 years of The Beano, 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.

The pan room in Keiller's confectionary factory, Dundee

The pan room in Keiller’s confectionery factory, Dundee © Libraries, Leisure and Culture 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 and yes they are now 80 years old! 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.

Where better to get creative?

There are lots of workshops and events that you too can join in to experience first hand and meet some of Dundee’s inspirational creatives.  Check out Creative Dundee’s  great  insider tips of what to do when in the city ? All 99 ideas are  selected by locals.

For inspiration on things to see and do in Dundee & Angus, visit our website to find out more.


  • I love the historical places in Dundee 🙂 We in DundeeDirectory.Com trying to document all the historical places in dundee.

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