V&A Dundee to open in September with ocean liners exhibition

Dundee's long-awaited V&A Museum of Design will open its doors in the autumn.

Dundee's 80 million waterfront museum has been in the planning for more than a decade.
Dundee's 80 million waterfront museum has been in the planning for more than a decade.

The £80 million waterfront attraction, which has been in the planning for more than a decade, is due to be unveiled to the public on Saturday 15 September.

Scotland's new landmark, which has been masterminded by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma over the last eight years, is at the heart of a £1 billion project to regenerate the city's waterfront.

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It was also revealed today the new attraction, that the world's only design museum outside London, will open with a major exhibition celebrating the world's greatest ocean liners.

More than 250 paintings, sculptures, ship and engine models, wall panels, furniture, fashion, textiles, photographs, posters and film footage will be brought together from public and private collections around the world.

Highlights of the exhibition, which has been four years in the planning, will include a panel fragment from the Titanic's first-class lounge, a Cartier tiara recovered from the sinking Lusitania during the First World War, and a Chrisian Dior suit worn by actress Marlene Dietrich as she arrived in New York on board the Queen Elizabeth in 1950.

Sophie McKinlay, director of exhibitions at V&A Dundee, said: “Visitors will get a sense of what it would have been like to experience life on board an ocean liner.

"“There is a lot to be said about the romance of these floating cities which are a wonderful example of a totally designed experience. As well as the glamour and hugely successful marketing of ocean liners, the exhibition will also venture into the engine rooms of these impressive vessels, exploring the innovations in engineering that so radically changed the way people travel.

"“This exhibition demonstrates how design covers such a huge range of disciplines drawing upon collections, skills and expertise as well as exploring the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner in a way that has never been done before."

The inside of Dundee’s new museum is expected to be kept firmly under wraps until the attraction is ready open to the public.

However it was announced today that Turner Prize-nominated artist Ciara Phillips will be creating a site-specific installation for the upper floor of the museum, which will be inspired by the V&A's vast Scottish design collection.

Two of the four galleries will have permanent displays telling “the story of Scotland’s outstanding design heritage.

Around 300 objects spanning more than 500 years will showcase everything from furniture, textiles, metalwork and ceramics to the latest digital technology, innovations in the health service, modern-day architecture and fashion trends.

Going on display will be a 500-year-old book of Christian text, prayers and psalms featuring several Scottish saints, a Jacobite garter, a Highland pistol, a pair of “Wellington Boots," a Dennis the Menace artwork from the famous comic strip and an elephant-shaped case designed by the artist Eduardo Paolozzi for the linoleum company Nairn Floors.

Also included will be an Indian throne chair created by a Berwickshire painter, Robert Home, a bookcase created by “Glasgow Style” designer George Logan for the city’s famous International Exhibition in 1901 and a recreation of part of a Glasgow tearoom designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Dundee V&A director Philip Long said: "After many years of planning for V&A Dundee, we are absolutely thrilled to announce the date of the new museum’s opening.

“In just eight months we will be opening the doors and welcoming our first visitors. V&A Dundee is set to be a vital new cultural organisation for Dundee, the UK and beyond, helping to change understanding of just how important design and creativity are to people’s lives.

"We are enormously grateful to all our supporters for helping to make this happen.

“V&A Dundee brings something new to Scotland. It is the country’s first museum dedicated to design, which visitors will be able to experience and get involved with in very many ways. Particularly important is that the new museum enables major V&A exhibitions to be seen more widely by more people across the UK.

"So I am especially excited that part of V&A Dundee’s opening programme will be the breath-taking exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed & Style, the first of many ambitious exhibitions at V&A Dundee that will show how our lives have been – and always will be – shaped by design.”

During a recent visit to the site Kuma told of his hopes that it will become both a “living room” and “community centre" for the city. His striking design, which has been compared to an upturned ship, is said to have been inspired by the cliff-faces that Kuma, who is working on Tokyo’s stadium for the 2020 Olympics, found further up the east coast, in Arbroath.

Around 2500 cast stone panels have been hung onto the exterior walls of the museum to try to replicate the sea cliffs Kuma saw when he was bidding to win the competition.

The cost of the project has almost doubled since his design won a £45 million international competition and its scheduled opening is around four years later than originally envisaged.

A new network of roads and a public park, Slessor Gardens, have been created in the waterfront area dominated by the museum, which is connected to the city centre via Union Street, and a new railway station for the city, which is due to open in March.