The lid was lifted on Dundee’s spectacular new waterfront museum - revealing the full scale of the attraction designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma for the first time.
Huge exhibition spaces, a spectacular main hall and a twisting staircase were unveiled ahead of the £80.1 million attraction’s public opening on Saturday.
Its wood-panelled main hall has been created inside one of two “inverted pyramids” which make up the building, which is said to have been inspired by the cliffs the architect discovered on the east coast of Scotland.
Around 2500 stone panels have been hung on the exterior walls of the museum, which hangs over the River Tay next to the city’s historic polar exploration vessel Discovery.
More than 300 objects charting the story of Scottish design and innovation are on permanent display, while its first major visiting exhibition is devoted to the world’s great ocean liners, including Titanic.
All tickets for the opening weekend of the building, which is described by its architect as “a new living room for the city,” have already been snapped up in advance.
The project, which has been more than a decade in the planning, has taken around three and a half years to complete.
The centrepiece of Dundee’s £1 billion waterfront regeneration, it is expected to attract more than half a million visitors in its first year.
Launching the museum today, Mr Kuma, who was appointed to mastermind the project nearly eight years ago, said: “The big idea for V&A Dundee was bringing together nature and architecture, to create a new living room for the city.
“I’m truly in love with the Scottish landscape and nature. I was inspired by the cliffs of north-eastern Scotland – it’s as if the earth and water had a long conversation and finally created this stunning shape.
“I hope the museum can change the city and become its centre of gravity. I am delighted and proud that this is my first building in the UK and that people will visit it from around the world.”
Highlights of the museum’s Scottish Design Galleries include outfits created by fashion designers Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Kane and Bernat Klein.
The exhibition will recognise the largely-forgotten contribution of designer Bill Gibb - an Aberdeenshire farmer’s son who took the British fashion industry by storm in the 1960s and 1970s - with a dress worn by the pop singer Sandie Shaw.
Paisley’s celebrated heritage as a hub of textile manufacturing will be honoured with the inclusion of a 19th century shawl, while Shetland’s famous knitwear industry will be showcased in a Fair Isle jumper worn by General Sir Walter Kirk, commander-in-chief of the British Home Forces during the Second World.
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Other items of clothing in the Scottish showcase include one of the world’s first Speedo swimsuits - the Riverback - which was made in the 1920s by an Australian firm set up by Highlander Alexander MacRae. One of the newest exhibits in the museum will be a dress by Edinburgh College of Art graduate Holly Fulton, said to have been inspired by the love affair between the Duke of Westminster and Coco Chanel.
Scotland’s claim as “the home of the welly” will be represented with a pair of classic green Hunter boots, which date back to 1856 when American tycoon Henry Lee Norris manufactured the first rubber boot at his factory in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh.
Other highlights of the Scottish Design Galleries will include the reconstruction of an entire Charles Rennie Mackintosh tearoom, which was saved from destruction in Glasgow nearly half a century ago, an elephant-shaped promotional case created for the Fife-based linoleum firm Nairns Floors in the early 1970s by Leith-born designer Eduardo Paolozzi and artwork from a 1960 Dennis the Menace story in The Beano comic, which has been published in Dundee for the last 80 years.
V&A Dundee director Philip Long said: “The opening of V&A Dundee is a historic occasion for Dundee, for the V&A, and for the very many people who played a vital part and supported its realisation. This is a very proud moment for all involved.
“V&A Dundee’s aspiration is to enrich lives, helping people to enjoy, be inspired by and find new opportunities through understanding the designed world. After years of planning, we are thrilled at being able to celebrate the realisation of the first V&A museum in the world outside London.
“The museum’s light-filled wooden interior and impressive spaces inside have been designed to provide a warm welcome to visitors, described by architect Kengo Kuma as a ‘living room for the city’.
“We are all very excited indeed that we can now welcome everybody into this remarkable new museum.”
V&A has joined forces with T in the Park and TRSNMT organisers DF Concerts to stage a two-day festival to herald the opening of the museum this weekend. Scottish rockers Primal Scream will headline a 10,000 capacity concert on Friday night, which will also see the museum transformed by a sound and light show.
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