V&A Dundee offers glimpse into its Scottish Design Galleries

By Graeme Ogston
BBC Scotland Tayside and Central reporter

Published
image sourceAFP
image captionThe Book of Hours is the oldest item in the museum's permanent collection

The stone-clad walls of Dundee's V&A Museum are visible for all to see, but what will lie within them has remained a closely-guarded secret.

But now the £80.1m attraction, which will open in the summer, has given a glimpse into its Scottish Design Galleries by revealing a handful of the 300 or so featured objects.

These range from a 15th Century book of illuminated manuscripts to the latest in computer gaming technology.

Other items include a Jacobite garter described in a 1748 edition of Gentleman's Magazine as "daubed with plaid and crammed with treason."

image sourceVictoria & Albert Museum London
image captionThe Jacobite garter was worn to express support for Bonnie Prince Charlie's claim to the throne

The majority of the items are drawn from about 12,000 Scottish-related objects held in the V&A's collections in London.

The Dundee galleries' lead curator Joanna Norman said the permanent collection will showcase the "very rich extensive history of Scottish design heritage."

She said: "Drawing on the V&A's world-famous collections of art, design and performance, it has taken several years of careful research to establish this unique collection of objects which together will tell a fascinating and relatively unknown story."

image sourceVictoria & Albert Museum London
image captionA Highland Pistol made between 1740 and 1760 will be displayed in the gallery
image sourceVictoria & Albert Museum London
image captionA geometric elephant designed by Eduardo Paolozzi will also feature in the museum

One of the more unusual objects on display will be an elephant-shaped promotional linoleum case for the 1972-73 Nairns Floors catalogue.

Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi was asked to design the case to showcase the firm's linoleum products to modern architects.

The museum said the Scottish Design Galleries would be the "heart of V&A Dundee" and explore "what is unique about Scotland's design landscape, historically and today."

image sourceV&A Dundee / DC Thomson
image captionA Holly Fulton-designed dress and original 1960 Dennis the Menace artwork

The galleries will include furniture, textiles, fashion, architecture, engineering and digital design, and will be based on the upper floor of the museum.

The 550 sq m gallery space will be split into three sections, with the first looking at "design as a collaborative process".

The museum said it would also show how Scotland's design "reflects its history, politics and geography" and explore how trade, fashion and migration have helped it "achieve international impact."

The second section focuses on how design "influences and shapes the places we live and the way we do things."

This section includes an architectural model of Maggie's Dundee, the first UK building designed by Frank Gehry, and will celebrate engineering achievements such as the construction of the Forth Bridge.

image sourceMaggie's Centres
image captionMaggie's Dundee was the first UK building designed by Frank Gehry
image sourceThe Secret Experiment / snap40
image captionThe Secret Experiment video game and snap40 wearable device are two of the contemporary exhibits

The final section explores how design can be used to "tell stories and spark the imagination," and includes original Dennis the Menace artwork by David Law for the Beano.

This section features the snap40 wearable device, which uses artificial intelligence to monitor a hospital patient's vital signs, and The Secret Experiment video game, which is released next year.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Oak Room, announced as a feature of the museum in 2015, will stand at the centre of the galleries.

V&A Dundee director Philip Long said the majority of the objects in the permanent collection had never previously been displayed in Scotland.

He said: "Getting to this stage has taken years of diligent research and the hard work goes on.

"Over the coming months we will continue to secure fascinating objects and begin moving them to the new galleries by the River Tay to prepare for V&A Dundee opening in the second half of 2018."

image sourceRoss Fraser McLean
image captionThe V&A Dundee Museum of Design will open next summer

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