The £80m V&A museum has come in for criticism over a lack of content, writes JULENA DRUMI
It was hailed as a symbol of Dundee’s renaissance, an £80m blend of international architecture and design that would put the city on the cultural map. But four years after opening, the V&A Dundee is attracting a different sort of headline with reviewers dubbing it a “waste of space”.
The museum, perched on the banks of the expansive River Tay, ranks only 48th on Tripadvisor’s list of things to do in Dundee, with almost 800 rating it “poor” or “terrible”.
That places it lower than the city’s established attractions, such as Discovery Point, the Botanic gardens, the Dundee Museum of Transport – and even behind the Desperate Dan statue, which ranked eighth, and the Overgate shopping centre, which came in at number 43.
One reviewer wrote: “I’ve given the V&A two stars because it was free and the staff were fantastic but that’s all I can recommend about it. It’s a huge space with very little in it. The permanent Scottish design room was random and not very interesting.”
Another visitor said: “I’m glad we went here as a follow-on from the Museum of Transport and didn’t make the trip especially to visit the V&A. What a waste of space this place is.”
While one of the 560 five-star reviews described it as a “beautiful building with lots to see and do”, and another said “I can’t recommend this museum enough”, the overall negativity has left the city’s tourism authorities with some thinking to do.
The building was opened in September 2018 amid a huge fanfare, with 200 media visitors making it the biggest thing to happenin the city since Dundee United’s European glory days in the 1980s.
Designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, it was positioned as a focal point of a £1 billion transformation of Dundee’s waterfront. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the museum would “transform the city”.
But in a review following the launch event, Daily Business noted that some had disparagingly compared it to an airport or shopping mall and there was criticism at the lack of content. That remains an issue for some visitors, including a reviewer who wrote: “all space and no action”.
It has not been all bad. It quickly took its place in Scotland’s corporate events calendar and, more importantly, it has hosted a number of well-received events, such as the current exhibition on the dancer and choreographer Michael Clark running until 4 September. Others have included a celebration of the fashion designer Mary Quant.
The museum’s management says it is still being developed. A spokeswoman said: “We are introducing new objects with fascinating stories to tell. We are also really pleased that V&A Dundee made it into Scotland’s top 10 most visited free attractions again this year.”