New V&A Dundee greeted with praise and protest

Four years late and some £53million over budget, the V&A Museum of Design nonetheless opened to great fanfare and protest in Dundee on Saturday 15 September.

The first V&A museum outside of London, V&A Dundee contains the largest temporary exhibition space in Scotland and permanent Scottish Design Galleries. Among the objects on permanent display are a pair of green Hunter wellington boots and a 15th century illuminated manuscript.

The jewel in the crown is the restored Charles Rennie Mackintosh Oak Room. Designed for the Ingram Street Tea Room in Glasgow it was saved from demolition and has been reconstructed to the delight of gallery goers.

V&A Dundee’s opening was officially marked by a music festival on the evening of Friday 14 September, headlined by Primal Scream. Six thousand lucky winners of a free ticket ballot were granted first admission to the new museum the following day.

Visitors were awed by architect Kengo Kuma’s dramatic building design of two inverted pyramids on the River Tay, which was inspired by Japanese temple archways. The building’s craggy façade comprised of pre-cast concrete slabs is also said to pay homage to Scotland’s cliff-edged coastline.

First Minister Nicole Sturgeon said the opening of V&A Dundee marked a turning point in local history and believes it “puts Dundee on the cultural map of the world”. Dundonian actor, Brian Cox, praised the new addition to the waterfront and said it “captures the spirit of Dundonians”.

Not everyone agrees. Around a dozen anti-austerity protesters from group ‘Unite the Community’ demonstrated outside the museum on its opening weekend. They criticised the investment in the hospitality sector and held banners, which read that the V&A ‘will not reduce poverty and social exclusion’ in Dundee.

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