V&A Dundee boss pledges that its exhibitions will be 'more Scottish' in future

Dundee's V&A museum opened its doors last September.
Dundee's V&A museum opened its doors last September.
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The director of V&A Dundee has pledged that its exhibitions programme will be more Scottish in future as he admitted the amount of permanent gallery space celebrating the nation’s best designers is “not enormous.”

Philip Long, who led the creation of the £80 million attraction, vowed there would be more of a balance in future between exhibitions which were originally created for the V&A in London and shows telling “Scottish design stories.”

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Mr Long responded to criticism that its permanent Scottish galleries are too “cramped” and have been "pushed" into a small part of the building, while its temporary exhibitions announced so far have already been elsewhere, particularly at the V&A in London.

V&A Dundee's first major show was a celebration of ocean liners, while the current temporary exhibition is a celebration of modern-day videogames.

A third show created for the V&A's historic museum in Kensington, a major retrospective on iconic British fashion designer Mary Quant, will open next year.

More than half a million visitors flocked to V&A in its first six months, with the attraction thought to have generated more than £10 for the local economy over the same period.

Dundee has been regular cited as a must-visit designation thanks to the opening of the museum, which was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

However Mr Long was tackled at the book festival on whether V&A Dundee would be curating "unique, bespoke Scottish-based exhibitions" in future or largely relying on bringing in exhibitions which had previously been in London.

He said: “One of V&A Dundee’s founding principles was that it would be a place to host major V&A exhibitions. These exhibitions in London are extraordinary, they go off around the world and they’re generally not seen elsewhere in the UK.

“V&A Dundee was a response to that, for the V&A to think about how would be able to share its collections, expertise and exhibitions more widely.

"People very much want to see these great shows in Dundee. Our inbox was full when we announced that the Mary Quant exhibition was coming to V&A Dundee next year.

"But we will be generating and developing our own exhibition programme with others internationally.

"At the moment, our programme is substantially one that utilises the extraordinary curatorial creativity in London.

"That’s partly because just simply opening V&A Dundee has been a major task to realise, but the museum is there forever now.

"You will see in the future that the programme will develop and will look more and more at design from Scotland.

“In terms of the space in the Scottish Design Galleries, it is not enormous. There are 300 objects, which we think is just about digestible.

"The challenge is that it is an enormous story. There are many other stories in there that we’d like to expand into different exhibitions and collaborations in the future, in all sorts of ways.

"In many ways we would hope that the Scottish design story that we tell is very much an invitation to others, to follow lines of enquiry, to write, to publish, to think about exhibitions and commissions and other projects that might explore this extraordinary design heritage more widely in the future."