V&A museum wins plaudits from stream of visitors after official opening

Scenes from the evening of guests arriving. (The Courier)

THE queues snaked around one of Scotland’s newest and most spectacular buildings yesterday.

But no-one was complaining about the wait after getting the first glimpse inside the V&A Museum in Dundee after the official opening.

The £80 million museum – nicknamed the ‘V&Tay’ – is due to welcome 6,000 people, who applied for a spot, in its opening weekend before being opening the doors to all tomorrow.

First to arrive just before 10am were Dundee pupils Shannon Balfour, Scott Regan and Jamie O’Neill, who are supported by young person’s mentoring charity Breakthrough.

They were part of a party including the building’s designer, renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, V&A Dundee director Philip Long and Dundee City Council leader John Alexander.

Shannon, 17, said she was proud and happy to be part of the opening ceremony.

She said: “The building is amazing.

“When I first walked in I thought how nice it is inside. I think it will inspire young people.”

Scott, 17, said: “It was amazing to be one of the first people through the door.


WATCH: First impressions as the V&A museum opens its doors

“It is something I will always remember.”

Jamie, 13, said: “When I walked in I could tell this is going to be the biggest thing for Dundee. It doesn’t seem like a fancy place – it feels more like a place for everyone to come and it is beautiful.”

There were celebrity visitors too.

Actor Brian Cox, who was born in the city, was among those who arrived in the morning.

He said: “For a Dundonian, it is quite emotional. I’ve seen this city through thick and thin. I have always loved the people, but I hated what the city fathers did with the city in the 1960s, I remember it vividly when they tore down the old part of Dundee.

“It is fantastic – and it is quite emotional as this is what the city should be.”

The V&A Dundee is Scotland’s first dedicated design museum and houses an eclectic range of displays from the V&A’s own collections and museums around the world.

Mr Long said there was “enormous pride and excitement” at the opening of the museum to the public.

He said: “It’s hard to find the words for it. There are people waiting to get into the museum, people with smiles on their faces coming in.”

The highlights of the museum include Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Room, a tea room interior which has been carefully reconstructed after being stored in hundreds of pieces for almost 50 years.

The first big touring exhibition is Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, which brings to life the golden age of ocean travel.

WATCH: A look inside the new V&A Dundee building 

Highlights include a fragment of a panel from the first-class lounge in the Titanic, which is on display in Europe for the first time.

For the first weekend, tickets had been allocated in advance by ballot, with general admission starting from tomorrow.

Access to the museum is free and usually non-ticketed, with the exception of some events and exhibitions.

The opening of the museum was also celebrated by the 3D festival, a free two-day event at nearby Slessor Gardens. Primal Scream headlined a sold-out concert on Friday night, attended by an audience of 10,000.

Yesterday there was a celebration of local talent at the festival, including performances from former Danny Wilson frontman Gary Clark and The View frontman Kyle Falconer.

The museum expects to attract around 500,000 visitors in the first 12 months of opening, with an anticipated 350,000 annually in the following years.

It is hoped the global attention on the new attraction will help place Dundee on the map of the most vibrant cities in the UK and transform its image.

The V&A building is the first in the UK to be designed by Kuma, who is designing Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium for the games in 2020.

He said the aim was to have a museum with a “warm feeling” that is a “living room” for the city and community.

He said: “This should be a part of the community and it can change the life of the city.”

Mr Alexander said statistics showed overnight stays in Dundee increased by nearly 10% from April 2017 to April 2018 – which was directly related to the museum and the global attention it had brought to the city.

He said: “I’m always asked the question what will the V&A do for the city and my response is already let’s look at what it has done, before it even opens its doors.”