V&A at Dundee project designed to inspire creativity

V&A at Dundee lobby Project bosses hope the V&A at Dundee will change the way people and businesses think about design

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The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design. Before the first bricks of the new V&A at Dundee are laid it has already set out a bold aim - to change the way people think about design.

Construction work is about to get under way on Scotland's own branch of the V&A on the banks of the River Tay.

Diggers and bulldozers are preparing the site so the first bricks can be laid, but project leaders have already built up an ambitious vision of the V&A at Dundee, years in the making - and it is a museum with a mission.

V&A at Dundee director Philip Long hopes to change the way people across the country think about design and creativity, from their personal lives to business and enterprise - perhaps even inspire Scottish entrepreneurs to create the next Apple.

The project can trace its roots back to 2007, when a group of organisations, initially led by Dundee University, entered talks with the Victoria and Albert museum to create its first outpost outside London, a world-leading centre of design and innovation.

But the vision for this new facility goes far beyond bricks and mortar and touring exhibitions.

"We want to be an international centre of design which has a mission," said Mr Long.

"That is to really help people's understanding of the relevance and opportunity there is in design and creativity across all aspects of human endeavour, whether through creative expression or contributing to business and economic development.

"For business and enterprise, design isn't something that just gets tacked on at the end, in marketing and graphics.

"It's about developing a creative approach all the way through the business process - Apple would be an example of one company that's been extraordinarily successful in this approach."

V&A Dundee exterior by night The museum on the banks of the Tay was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma

Mr Long can reel off a lengthy list of Scots currently leading their fields in design, including Ian and Moray Callum, Dumfries-born brothers who currently work as head of design for Jaguar and Ford respectively.

The V&A at Dundee will not only celebrate Scotland's design heritage, running from the 1500s right up to the present day, but seek to inspire and inform the careers of future designers.

Design competition

It will do this from a building which is a landmark of design in itself.

A competition to draw up plans for the museum on the banks of the River Tay attracted entries from right across the globe, and judges eventually chose a design by leading Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

The V&A will be his first major building in the UK, but his increasingly acclaimed firm already has offices in Paris and Tokyo and has won a host of awards.

V&A at Dundee interior It is projected that hundreds of thousands of tourists will visit Dundee after the museum opens in 2017
V&A Dundee interior The museum project includes extensive educational programmes as well as exhibition space

Such expertise comes at a price - by the time it opens its doors in 2017, the V&A at Dundee will have cost £45m.

Start Quote

Let's not understate this, this is a lot of money coming from national agencies being given to a project born here in Dundee. That's a fantastic sign of confidence in the project and in the city”

End Quote Philip Long Director, V&A at Dundee

The funding for the project has been split into three chunks of £15m. The first third has already been committed by the Scottish government, back in 2012 when the project first won official support.

The next third is made up of contributions from other public sources, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, who contributed £8m towards the capital budget as well as cash for revenue costs, and the latest award from Creative Scotland.

And Mr Long is hopeful that funding will soon be confirmed from the European Regional Development Fund to complete this part of the funding.

The final third is to be raised from private donations, and local and national donors have already come forward with £6.7m.

"We're on track and on target - we just have £8.3m to find over the development part of the project," Mr Long said.

"It's a large target to find from private sources for a cultural development, but it's been heartening to see the interest locally and increasingly nationally for the project - even before being out on site, we're getting there."

Dundee waterfront image Dundee's waterfront is undergoing a £1bn regeneration project, with the V&A at its heart

The V&A's new home in Dundee is right at the heart of the central waterfront, in a spot formerly occupied by the Olympia swimming pool, demolished earlier this year.

The museum will form the centrepiece of a £1bn transformation of the waterfront, which is projected to bring millions of pounds of investment, hundreds of thousands of tourists and thousands of jobs to the city.

"The waterfront ambition is a fantastic project in this country," said Mr Long.

"It's going to be a fantastic asset for the city and for the region and for the country, and it's great that the V&A is at the forefront of all of that.

"Let's not understate this, this is a lot of money coming from national agencies being given to a project born here in Dundee.

"That's a fantastic sign of confidence in the project and in the city - we should all be proud of that, and I know I am."

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