Glasgow, V&A Dundee, Scotland’s first design
museum, has already begun its work of healing and redemption. As
the Glasgow School of Art was consumed by flames in June, the final
touches were applied to another Charles Rennie Mackintosh jewel.
The designer’s tearoom had stood in Glasgow until 50 years
ago, when it was forced to make way for other uses. A city council
employee intervened to ensure that every item and fitting in the
tearoom was saved and recorded for when its splendour might be seen
That day dawns in September when the V&A Dundee opens
and the world will see Mackintosh’s lost masterpiece for the first time in
50 years, as well as a world-class collection of art and artefacts.
It marks the end of an eight-year undertaking that saw Dundee
embark on one of the most important cultural projects Scotland has
known. The spectacular new museum has been built on the city’s
waterfront, the first to bear the imprint of the V&A outside London. Its
Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, has said he wanted to create a new
living room for the city.
Many people in Dundee hope the museum will be able to
reconnect the city to its creative past. For years, Dundee has been a
punchline to old jokes, with significant social problems. But in the city
on Saturday the talk was about hopes and dreams for the future and
the role that the V&A might play.
The writer and author Lorraine Wilson feels that the V&A has
already begun to cast its spell. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life living
and working away from Dundee and had to put on a brave face when
people began to disparage my city, she said. Inside, I was hurting
because if people only knew about what this city has produced in its
past, they wouldn’t be saying these things.
Gordon Douglas, a professional musician, is also optimistic
about what the V&A can bring. At the beginning there was the
inevitable response that the money would be better spent elsewhere,
he said. But such views began to fade when the building took shape
and they could see that this was something they could be proud of.
Dundee is the city of Captain Scott’s Discovery, which is berthed
alongside the V&A. The Tay rail bridge, the gateway to Dundee, is one
of the world’s finest and most eyecatching feats of engineering. Design
and creativity are in the DNA of this city, from its comic-book heroes, its
textiles, its newspapers.
The story of how Dundee came to be the location for the first
V&A museum outside of London is at once uplifting and dramatic.
Mike Galloway is director of planning at Dundee city council and
the last remaining member of the original steering group, which met for
the first time 10 years ago. He has been driving the project ever since.
I’ve worked on the redevelopment of the London Docklands,
Manchester city centre and Gorbals in my native Glasgow.
Redeveloping Dundee’s waterfront really got under my skin, though,
and I’ve been here for the last 20 years, he said.
A group of us met for lunch at the residence of the principal of Dundee
University. This had come about because of the close ties between
Dundee University and the V&A. We had a masterplan for the
waterfront but felt we needed a spark.
We didn’t know what that spark would be but we would know it when
we saw it.
A plan involving a museum of design began to take shape, and the
V&A saw something in it they liked and wanted to be a part of. They
offered us their brand and free use of their touring collections and
became partners along with the council, Dundee University, Abertay
University and Scottish Enterprise.
He is confident that the new museum will bring jobs and inward
investment. At the outset we wanted the hotel groups and the
contractors to agree to hire locally and to pay the real living wage.
There was some initial resistance to this but everyone has now signed
up and seen the benefits of doing this, he said.
The new museum looks striking enough from afar but it’s only
when you get close up that you see Kuma’s real genius. Families will
be welcomed here all day and every day and know that they will not be
required to spend money as well as their time.
When you see its folds and crevices, which will change with the
seasons, it becomes clear that he has created a living thing and
something that will travel with time � not be wearied by it.
The Scottish Design Galleries will be the heart of V&A Dundee
and will include 300 objects representing a wide range of design
disciplines, from the decorative arts to fashion, architecture,
engineering and digital design, the British Guardian newspaper
Source: Oman News Agency