The Scottish Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund have confirmed they are backing a £12 million overhaul of the Dundee home of RRS Discovery, 30 years after it was brought back to the city.
More than £5 million has been secured for the project from the government and the lottery fund, allowing the first phase of work to be carried out over the next year, with the new-look attraction due to be completed by 2024.
New galleries and exhibition spaces will be created to bring visitors up to date on the latest polar research and how it compares to the work one by the scientists on board the steamship on a three-year expedition from 1901-1904.
New displays will develop and expand on how the attraction charts the history of polar exploration, its links to the city and the role of explorers like Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, who both set sail on Discovery in the British National Antarctic Expedition.
A temporary exhibition space will also be created to allow the attraction to bring “blockbuster” exhibitions to the city or create its own shows.
The building’s expansion, which will feature a two-storey cafe and restaurant, as well as new conference and event facilities, is aimed at opening up access to the waterfront.
For the first time, the dome-shaped roof of the existing building will offer 360 degree views of the River Tay, the city’s fast-changing waterfront, and also become home to a major work by environmental artist Luke Jerram.
The waterfront is already home to Dundee’s V&A museum while its docks area was recently chosen for a new Eden Project attraction.
The existing Discovery Point complex, opened in 1993, is run by the Dundee Heritage Trust, which is also responsible for the city’s Verdant Works attraction.
Chair Jim Pettigrew said: “The transformation of Discovery Point will have a huge impact on the city, bringing visitors, jobs and investment to Dundee and helping to put the city on the map as a global destination for green tourism.
"We are delighted to have secured this financial support – it’s a huge vote of confidence in our plans.
"There now begins a major public funding drive to raise a further £6 million, which is necessary to unlock a significant proportion of the money committed so far.”
The British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who is patron of the trust, said: “Over the course of my lifetime as an expedition leader, I’ve become only too aware of the changes brought about by the Earth’s warming climate
and have seen at first hand the impact this is having, particularly in the polar regions.
“I’m therefore delighted to add my support to this exciting project which not only preserves our unique Antarctic heritage but also raises public awareness of the environmental challenges faced by our fragile planet.”
Scottish economy secretary Kate Forbes said: “I’m delighted that our funding will help Discovery Point enhance their offering and, in particular, emphasise the importance of climate change as Scotland prepares to host COP26 in November.”