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Hi, I’m Fiona

Lover of lattes and books, being intentional and busy raising a family.

Family Day Out to the V&A Dundee

Family Day Out to the V&A Dundee

A few weeks ago we made a day trip to Dundee for a spot of culture at the new V&A museum. The V&A Museum has been in Knightsbridge, London since 1852 and is named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It has a permanent collection of 2.27 million objects and is the worlds largest museum of decorative arts and design.

The Dundee outpost museum was commissioned almost 10 years ago with construction breaking ground in 2014. Officially opened on 15th September 2018, V&A Dundee is the first design museum in Scotland with an aim of ‘inspiration, discovery and learning’.

The Building

The museum occupies a spot right on the River Tay and is the centrepoint of the waterfront transformation in the city. Designed by architect Kengo Kuma, a Japanese architect who has this as his first UK building and is also designing the 2020 Olympic stadium in Tokyo. The museum building is stunning. With curved external walls and it jutting out into the River Tay the museum evokes the feel of a Scottish cliff face.

Whats It Like Inside

The entrance atrium is a huge open space. Angled wood clad walls with small viewing windows scattered around the atrium at varying heights. Downstairs there is a gift shop and cafe as well as plenty seating to take in the museum. A large staircase is the main focal point of the atrium, leading you up to the galleries.


Food with a View

Before diving into the galleries we needed lunch. I had booked a table at the Tatha restaurant, which has views over the river. The menu has a great selection, any menu with a ‘Brunchy Lunchy’ section gets my vote! The kids menu was limited to only four options, two were sandwiches, which is a shame considering the choice on the main menu. Penelope had mini fish and chips which was a good sized portion for our hungry two year old.

I didn’t take any photos of our meals because the service was super super slow so we were starving. Thankfully the food itself was delicious.


The Exhibits

Ok heres where I hadn’t done my research. There is only one permanent exhibit, The Scottish Design Galleries with two temporary galleries: The Michelin Gallery which currently shows ‘Scottish Design Relay’ and a further gallery which will be for travelling exhibits from the V&A. I assumed there would be more to see so I felt a little bit deflated at the small scope of the V&A Dundee.

Scottish Design Galleries

Everyday design relevant objects from fashion, furniture, architecture and more. 300 exhibits from the V&A collection and across Scotland. There is a lot to see in here with the centrepiece being the restored Charles Rennie MacIntosh Oak Room. A highlight for our toddler was a display of Scottish bridges made of wooden blocks which could be played with! With so many exhibits in quite a tight space plus crowds it was difficult to see everything properly, its a shame the gallery space isn’t larger especially since this is the main gallery.

Scottish Design Relay

I loved this exhibit. Various communities across Scotland-including my hometown Aberdeen- developed a new object, service or artwork as a collaboration between designers and young people. Their whole design process along with finished pieces are on display. This exhibit is only running until January 2019.


For the Kids?

Yes! The restaurant and cafe have food for them and highchairs. There is even a Picnic Room so you can bring a packed lunch for the family which I thought was a good touch! A baby changing room and the toilets are big enough if you’re at potty training stage to all fit in comfortably!

Within the Design Gallery they’ve a cute ‘i-spy design’ trail to follow and collect stamps. Playing with the wooden bridges was probably Penelopes favourite part of the day. In the Design Relay section they can colour in and a few pieces can be touched.

The upstairs is wide open for them to have a little run about and when you go outside they’ll love looking at the water feature.


Overall, I was a little bit underwhelmed. I hadn’t read much of what was inside the museum but I was expecting there to be more galleries. That said its a lovely museum, a fantastic addition to Dundee and Scotland and I’ll be keeping my eye on what new exhibitions they have.

Have you been to the V&A Dundee? What did you think of the museum?

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