Liz O’rourke mar­vels at the trea­sures of Dundee’s V&A mu­seum

Liz O’rourke mar­vels at the trea­sures of Dundee’s mag­nif­i­cent new V&A mu­seum.

The People's Friend - - This Week -

TRAVEL into Dundee and the first thing you’ll no­tice is the fan­tas­tic new V&A build­ing stand­ing proudly by the Tay. It was de­signed by Ja­panese ar­chi­tect Kengo Kuma, who took his in­spi­ra­tion from the cliffs fur­ther up the coast near Ar­broath.

In­spired, too, by Dundee’s mar­itime his­tory, the spec­tac­u­lar build­ing has been likened to a galleon and a ship’s sail. What­ever you think, there’s no deny­ing it’s an im­pres­sive struc­ture that stands along­side Cap­tain Scott’s boat, RRS Dis­cov­ery.

Kengo Kuma has used sus­tain­able prod­ucts wher­ever pos­si­ble. He set out to bring na­ture and architecture to­gether to cre­ate “a liv­ing-room for the city”.

Con­trast­ing with the dark ex­te­rior, the bright wooden in­te­rior is spa­cious and wel­com­ing. Lit­tle win­dows and arches of­fer views across the Tay, ful­fill­ing the prom­ise to link the build­ing with its sur­round­ings.

Up­stairs are the ex­hi­bi­tion gal­leries. For many, the first stop will be “Ocean Lin­ers: Speed and Style”, which runs un­til Fe­bru­ary 24.

This ex­hi­bi­tion re­calls a time when trav­el­ling first class on a liner was a grand ex­pe­ri­ence. From the Chris­tian Dior trav­el­ling suit worn by Mar­lene Di­et­rich to the Duke of Wind­sor’s Go­yard lug­gage, there is much to ad­mire as you pass through the decades.

Cen­tral to one sec­tion is a ship’s swim­ming pool in which man­nequins in vin­tage swimwear dive and swim. Clever pho­tog­ra­phy gives you the feel­ing of be­ing on deck while at sea.

Fur­ther on, you’ll be daz­zled by the tiara which sur­vived the loss of the

Lusi­ta­nia, and the wooden door panel from the Ti­tanic found float­ing in the At­lantic. It is the largest sur­viv­ing frag­ment from the ship.

Leav­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion, the Scot­tish De­sign Gal­leries beckon. These per­ma­nent gal­leries show­case the best of Scot­tish de­sign, rang­ing from silk Pais­ley shawls to Hunter welling­ton boots, Lem­mings com­puter games and a copy of the “Beano”.

Un­doubt­edly the jewel in the crown is Charles Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh’s Oak Room, which has been re­built from hun­dreds of pieces pre­vi­ously stored by Glas­gow City Coun­cil.

They took pos­ses­sion of the ma­te­ri­als when what was Miss Cranston’s In­gram Street Tea Rooms was con­verted into a ho­tel.

Each piece was numbered and coded, then lan­guished in a base­ment un­til a large enough space beck­oned in the V&A Dundee.

Sym­pa­thetic restora­tion has seen the wood stripped back to its orig­i­nal dark var­nish, and the stained glass re­paired by ex­perts.

Step in­side and one can al­most hear the mur­mur of voices, the tin­kle of spoons against fine china and the crackle of the fire on a damp win­ter’s day.

Kengo Kuma has spo­ken of his pride in hav­ing this room in his cre­ation.

“There is an aes­thetic of sim­plic­ity and trans­parency that Mack­in­tosh and Ja­panese cul­ture have in com­mon. His work taught me that trans­parency could be achieved in architecture us­ing nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als.

“In the Oak Room, peo­ple will feel his sen­si­bil­ity and re­spect for na­ture, and hope­fully con­nect it with our de­sign for V&A Dundee.”

This sums up the beauty of the V&A Dundee. Mod­ern meets old; in­no­va­tive stands along­side clas­sic; good de­sign and in­spir­ing architecture link them all. ■

The V&A Dundee has a pic­turesque set­ting.

Don’t miss the “Ocean Lin­ers: Speed and Style” ex­hi­bi­tion.

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