Museum celebrating all that outdoor design can do to support post-Covid recovery - Leonie Bell

As Scotland’s design museum, V&A Dundee showcases the best in design past and present within our galleries and through the building’s architecture. The future of how design is shared with our audiences is not limited to what happens within the concrete walls.

Leonie Bell is Director of V&A Dundee.

Out on the plaza on the Dundee waterfront is a bustling public space we are using to encourage a range of activities from play, design trails and souvenirs, to places to eat, drink and sit. The plaza and wider Dundee Waterfront are a showcase of design itself, a new urban landscape that connects the city to the river and provides beautiful and safe spaces for everyone.

The museum has begun to expand its footprint and to share ideas about what a design museum can be, who it’s for and what our civic role is. This year we have developed several activities that are an open invitation to explore V&A Dundee and the waterfront in new ways. This approach has opened up new possibilities to explore what design means to people, to develop connections across the city, and to encourage everyone to see V&A Dundee and the waterfront as an everyday part of life in Dundee.

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We know being outdoors brings huge wellbeing benefits to us all and the museum is celebrating all that outdoor design can do to support Scotland’s post-COVID recovery, as we find new ways to be together. This builds on a socially distanced, interactive playscape that was developed for the museum plaza last year, developed in partnership with Abertay University.

This year the Glasgow-based mural collective Cobolt Collective have transformed the plaza with a colourful floor mural that welcomes visitors from afar and encourages play. The space was co-designed with V&A Dundee’s Young People Collective, Capability Scotland, Front Lounge, Helm and the local skater community to create bold and transformative design to frame our iconic building designed by Kengo Kuma.

Growing up in Dundee the waterfront looked so different. I left the area in 1993 to study in Glasgow and returned last year with my family. The transformation has been spectacular. New life and ambition are breathing through the city and Dundee feels energised. I am so proud and excited to be part of the continuing development of the area, from the urban beach recently opened next to the museum, to the plans for Eden Project Dundee.

We are keen to encourage more people to use Dundee’s waterfront and public parks and spaces. The recent Dundee Design Festival stretched across the city and saw the waterfront as one of the stops around Dundee for people to engage with design in an everyday and fun ways. Families have also been welcomed by a new trail designed to take children of all ages on a colourful waterfront walk through the plaza, urban beach and Slessor Gardens, designed by Dundee-based illustrator Cara Rooney.

We have a vision for V&A Dundee where, as a museum, we work alongside audiences and designers to bring our indoor and outdoor spaces to life. To find out more please visit

Leonie Bell is Director of V&A Dundee