Should you visit the V&A Museum on Dundee’s Waterfront?

Is all the hype about the V&A Museum Dundee fact or fiction?

If you decide to travel to Dundee to see the V&A Museum from Washington , just south of Newcastle, you will need to drive 200 miles and the journey will take approximately 4 hours with a short comfort break. Is the journey worth it?

Hopefully I can answer that for you as I was commissioned to go to Dundee to take photographs of the newly opened Railway Station which stands just opposite the V&A Museum in Dundee. If you would like to jump to the images of the Railway Station you can view them on this page.

First time visit to Dundee and Dundee Waterfront

As this was my first ever visit to Dundee I was very excited at the prospect of visiting. I have had to visit many Scottish cities and towns with my work as a commercial photographer and almost all of them have proven to be a ‘photographer’s paradise’. Regardless of the weather!

Despite the almost 4 hour drive the journey passes quickly and without event. I set off from Washington at 5am and  arrived in Dundee around 9 am. As I entered  Dundee I found I was coasting by the River Tay on my right, it is a very beautiful and welcoming site. There is a very long and impressive bridge ( the Tay Railway Bridge ) I  believe that holds your gaze as you drive into Dundee, it is beautiful to see and I wished i’d had time to stop, admire the amazing view and take some photographs of it. Time was against me as I needed to shoot the Railway Station at a certain time for the light to be right.

Parking on a Bank Holiday Monday!

I hadn’t realised it was a Bank Holiday in Scotland so finding a closish parking space to the Railway Station was a bit of a challenge. Whilst driving around, looking for a space I caught my first sight of the V&A Museum. None of the photographs I’ve seen to date do it justice, from the outside it is a remarkable looking building.

I was so taken by the view I forgot I was looking for a parking space as the red traffic light turned to green and cars started honking their horn behind me, encouraging me to move on!

After 15 mins of circulating I managed to find a parking space and pulled my wheeled camera case to the station. The camera gear inside weighs about 30 kilos which is why i no longer carry it on my back. As mentioned in another blog, Dundee Railway Station is beautiful in my opinion and it managed to hold my attention until I was free to to visit the V&A.

V&A Museum Dundee entrance by James Thompson
V&A Museum Dundee front view by James Thompson

How much does it cost to get into the V&A Museum?

I was expecting it to be around £10-12. The queue was very long and never seems to shorten. There were also crowds of people outside taking selfies of themselves in front of it. As I got to the front of the queue, which took about 15 mins, I took out my wallet and I was told that entry to the museum was free! Happy days! I couldn’t believe it, such an impressive building and free to go in!

V&A Museum Dundee by James Thompson
V&A Museum Dundee by James Thompson

What’s it like inside the V&A Museum?

Unlike anything I have been in before! Needless to say it was very busy the day I visited, so taking in any atmosphere or sense of scale was quite difficult as I was constantly having to make sure my camera bag didn’t roll over someone’s feet. It’s very big inside and from wherever you look there are fascinating angles to discover, with leading lines everywhere. There is a café downstairs and various exhibitions upstairs, covering Scotland’s past, present and future.

Interior view from first floor of V&A Museum Dundee by James Thompson
Interior view from first floor of V&A Museum Dundee by James Thompson

I will need to revisit to give a clearer picture of what it’s like inside as it was so busy. The one obvious thing that really stuck out for me are that there are no ‘killer’ views from anywhere. The windows that are there are quite small, until you get to the very top. Thats not a criticism, just an initial observation and maybe I have missed something due to the sheer volume of visitors.

Who designed the Dundee V&A Museum?

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma won a competition that was held to decide who would design the V&A Museum in Dundee. The museum will be his first ever building in Britain and he is also designing the Olympic stadium for Tokyo 2020.

Architectural design of V&A Museum Dundee photograph by James Thompson
Architectural design of V&A Museum Dundee photograph by James Thompson

How much did the V&A Museum in Dundee cost to build?

The project’s budget was originally £45 million and rose  to more than £80 million which Kengo Kuma claimed was a lot more expensive than expected.

Kengo Kuma and Associates expressed their appreciation that Dundee City Council decided to allow the  project to proceed despite the great rise in price.

Scotland's flagship cultural project. Photograph by James Thompson
Scotland’s flagship cultural project. Photograph by James Thompson

So is the V&A Museum in Dundee worth a visit then?

Absolutely! It really is a beautiful building in beautiful surroundings. I will certainly be going back on a quieter day to give myself the opportunity to take a closer look at the interior. Even if you think you can’t make it to Dundee whilst its open during the day, believe me it looks even more beautiful outside at night. I was surprised at how few people there were outside on the Bank Holiday evening.

V&A Museum Dundee at night by James Thompson
V&A Museum Dundee at night by James Thompson

Did you notice anything else to do or see  in Dundee?

Although I was there all day, I was working against the clock to get all the photographs of the Railway Station I needed for my client J&D Pierce. They are the company who fabricated and erected the steelwork for the Railway Station. Looking for the best angles involved driving around for a while and I accidentally drove over what I think is called The Blackwatch Parade.

Current construction projects on Dundee Waterfront

Dundee Waterfront is buzzing with people and activity.Immediately opposite the new Dundee Railway Station there is a new building being constructed. I believe this is called Site 6 and will feature apartments, office blocks and Leisure outlets and Restaurants for everyone to enjoy. Here is a view of the current stage of construction as of the 25th September 2018. I took this image from the archway of the V&A Museum itself. You can also see Dundee Railway Station to the left.

Site 6 on Dundee Waterfront photograph by James Thompson
Site 6 on Dundee Waterfront photograph by James Thompson

If you would like more info on the forthcoming developments for Dundee Waterfront you can find official plans here. There is also an excellent website I found called aptly Discover Dundee Waterfront, you can find it here. It has a lot of really useful information about future projects on Dundee Waterfront.

If you’d like to learn more regarding the construction of the V&A museum in Dundee the BAM Constructions website holds a wealth of interesting information, their website can be found here.

If you’d like to be notified of our future visits to Dundee and other areas of Scotland and England, you can leave us your contact details here and we will keep you updated.  Please view our Privacy Policy to show how we manage your data.

Finally, if you are looking for a commercial, industrial of architectural photographer, give us a call or drop us a line. We are happy to visit you to discuss things with you also. email or call James on 07817 512 234. You can view more of our work here.

Your image is in safe hands, we recently were awarded Industrial Photographer of the Year 2018 by the Master Photographers Association and an Award of Excellence for our Commercial Photography. Please keep coming back to our website are there are many more case studies and portfolios of our Commercial Work to be uploaded.

Industrial Photographer of the Year Award 2018 for James Thompson
Industrial Photographer of the Year Award 2018 for James Thompson

How to get to the V&A Museum Dundee







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