Opening in September, this architectural gem of a gallery is the new destination for culture lovers
Opening in September, this architectural gem of a museum is the new destination for culture lovers from around the world
London’s magnificent Victoria and Albert Museum (established in 1852) has set sail for the coastal Scottish city of Dundee. After ten years of work and £80 million spent, the first ever outpost of this legendary institution has its grand opening on 15 September.
Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, its form is inspired by the cliffs on Scotland’s east coast. As Kuma says, ‘it’s as if the earth and water had a long conversation, and finally created this stunning shape’. He hopes the building – his first in the UK – will become Dundee’s gravitational centre, and be ‘a new living room for the city’. The V&A Dundee’s director, Philip Long, who joined the project from Scotland’s National Gallery, approves. ‘The building is modern and cutting-edge, yet true to Scotland’s heritage of innovation,’ he says. ‘Strong and resilient, yet beautiful and clever.’
We’ve seen the exterior, but what’s it like inside? ‘Breathtaking,’ Long confirms. ‘From the entrance, the galleries seem to fold out and open up, with beautifully framed views across the River Tay.’ Those new galleries will be filled with a mixture of short-term, ticketed exhibitions (some on tour from the V&A London, some independently generated) and free-admission areas devoted to showcasing the best of Scottish design. An impressive 300 objects, from decorative arts (textiles, furniture, homeware) to architecture, fashion and digital designs, will make up the permanent collection. These vary in scale from a Fair Isle knitted jumper to designs for Edinburgh’s Forth Bridge. Philip Long’s favourite exhibit is the oak-panelled interior of a Glasgow tearoom, created by Scottish designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1907, which the V&A’S team has restored and rebuilt. ‘I especially love it because of its connection with Japanese design, which Mackintosh was influenced by,’ Long observes. ‘Now, the tearoom is housed in a building by Kuma, a Japanese architect, who himself is a great admirer of Mackintosh’s work.’ It’s just one example of how this venue shines a light on the global influence of Scottish design (vandadundee.org).