It’s been open for many months and has already welcomed over 380,000 people through its doors yet the V&A Dundee was given the royal seal of approval yesterday when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially opened the iconic building.
Their Royal Highnesses visited the new international design museum and met with its architect Kengo Kuma, key members of its team, local designers, schoolchildren and young people who have worked with V&A Dundee.
The Duke and Duchess also met with members of V&A Dundee’s Young People’s Collective, a group of 16 to 25-year-olds from diverse backgrounds across Dundee who have created events within the museum and also played a central role in V&A Dundee’s opening event, the 3D Festival, a key event in Scotland’s Year of Young People.
The Duke and Duchess toured the museum’s permanent Scottish Design Galleries, which represent over 500 years of Scottish design excellence, and saw key objects including a dress designed by Christopher Kane for his Autumn/Winter 2015 collection.
At the centre of the galleries Their Royal Highnesses saw Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s magnificent Oak Room, which was originally opened in Glasgow in 1908. The full tearoom interior has been meticulously restored, conserved and reconstructed through a partnership between V&A Dundee, Glasgow Museums and Dundee City Council.
After leaving the Oak Room, the Duke met with Simon Meek, V&A Dundee’s first Designer in Residence and the creator of the BAFTA-winning videogame Beckett, while the Duchess was shown an engineering drawing of the Tay Rail Bridge by a trainee tour guide from the Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre.
Amina is a Dundee-based organisation which is working with V&A Dundee to support local women to deliver inclusive tours for black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities in their native languages, developing their confidence and employment skills.
After seeing the Scottish Design Galleries, Their Royal Highnesses watched a performance of Maiden Voyage, a fanfare for brass quintet by young Aberdeenshire composer Lliam Paterson. The piece of music was inspired by the architecture and nautical spirit of V&A Dundee and commissioned jointly by V&A Dundee and RSNO, Scotland’s National Orchestra, for the museum’s opening last September.
To mark the museum officially open, the Duke and Duchess then unveiled a carved wooden panel which will be displayed in the museum’s entrance foyer. The fabric which covered the plaque before its unveiling was inspired by the museum and designed by Eva Brown, a Textile Design student at the University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.
Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee, said: “V&A Dundee is an ambitious new international museum, and we are honoured that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today declared the museum officially open.
“V&A Dundee is at the heart of Dundee’s transforming waterfront, and is a key part of the city’s plans for an exciting future. Within our remarkable building, designed by Kengo Kuma, we are proud to host world-class permanent galleries and remarkable exhibitions that have already delighted and inspired hundreds of thousands of people.”
Lord Lieutenant Ian Borthwick, Lord Provost of Dundee, said: “I am delighted to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to V&A Dundee. This magnificent building is continuing to raise the city’s global profile and celebrates Scotland’s rich cultural heritage.
“Dundee is a UNESCO City of Design, a place where culture is helping to transform people’s lives. This museum has already brought huge benefits to the city of Dundee.”
Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: “We are truly grateful for the support that our Royal Patron, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge have shown to V&A Dundee, the flagship institution of our growing family of V&A sites.
“This official opening recognises the museum’s transformative impact on Dundee and further strengthens the city’s position as a new international cultural destination.”
The Duchess of Cambridge is the first Royal Patron of the V&A, continuing the museum’s long-standing relationship with the Royal Family from the V&A’s founding in 1852.
V&A Dundee opened its doors for the first time to the public on Saturday 15 September 2018. The museum has welcomed over 380,000 visitors since opening and was recently recognised as the world’s Best New Public Building by Wallpaper*, the international design magazine.
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, designed by Kengo Kuma and 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.
The museum’s ambitious international exhibition programme opened 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. This runs until 24 February 2019.
V&A Dundee’s 2019 exhibition programme will celebrate the design and culture of contemporary videogames with the V&A’s spectacular show Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, from 20 April to 8 September 2019, and then go on to examine the current boom in robotics with the exhibition Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine from 2 November 2019 to 23 February 2020.
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, the largest of its kind in Scotland.