830,000 visitors welcomed in first year

V&A Dundee welcomed over 830,000 visitors in its first year, 330,000 more than the pre-opening estimate of 500,000 visitors.

In the last 12 months the museum was visited by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for its official opening, made the front cover of TIME Magazine as one of the world’s Greatest Places of 2019, won numerous awards, hosted filming of BBC Antiques Roadshow and even featured in an IRN-BRU Snowman advert.

V&A Dundee’s opening last year marked over ten years of planning and preparation, including the design of Kengo Kuma’s remarkable new building, major conservation projects including Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Room, and a wide range of new commissions and learning projects.

The museum is estimated to have an economic impact of £23 million across Scotland in its first year, supporting 604 full-time equivalent jobs. V&A Dundee’s creation also allows design exhibitions to be shown in Scotland on a scale never seen before, as its exhibition galleries are the nation’s largest.

Scotland’s first design museum sits at the centre of the Dundee waterfront, an ambitious 30-year, £1 billion regeneration project which began in 2001.

Key achievements in the first year include:

  • 833,015 visitors during normal opening hours
  • 33,839 people attending evening events, in addition to the day visitors
  • 27,000 people taking part in events and previews to mark the museum’s opening, including the public 3D Festival
  • Over 26,000 people taking part in learning events, talks and workshops
  • Over 8,000 memberships sold, giving over 20,000 people free access to major exhibitions and other benefits
  • Over 4,000 school pupils visiting the museum, supported by a free travel programme
  • Contributed to a £16 million boost in the value of Dundee tourism in 2018, which at £187 million already exceeds the city’s target for 2020
  • The first ever book published on the history of Scottish design
  • Two major exhibitions, and four exhibitions in our Michelin Design Gallery showcasing new Scottish design creativity

Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee, said: “The last 12 months have been remarkable and I can hardly believe all that’s been achieved in that time. As well as welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors and putting on world-class exhibitions championing Scottish and international design, the museum has really become part of the city, and for that I’d like to thank everyone for their support.

“We’re very proud of the contribution we have already made to Dundee and Scotland, and the opportunities we are generating for our nation’s creative talent, such as our current exhibition of work by the brilliant young fashion designer Nicholas Daley. We look forward to welcoming many more visitors to our upcoming major exhibitions Hello, Robot and Mary Quant.”

Independent research commissioned by V&A Dundee estimated the museum’s economic impact in the first year would be £10.3 million in Dundee and £23 million across the whole of Scotland. This was expected to support 178 full-time equivalent jobs in Dundee and 604 across Scotland.

The research, conducted by Ekosgen and Reference Economics, was based on 500,000 visitors in the first year. Work is underway to calculate the actual economic impact, which is now expected to exceed the initial estimates.

Tim Allan, Chair of the Board of V&A Dundee, said: “V&A Dundee has already proven itself to be a major new international attraction, bringing tourists from around the world to Dundee to spend time and money, supporting local businesses. In turn, this is already encouraging new investment and job creation.

“The 30-year waterfront vision outlined in 2001 is clearly ahead of target and I look forward to seeing many more companies investing in Dundee in the next decade.”

Visitors to V&A Dundee are coming from all over the world, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore and the United States.

The museum has welcomed 36% of its visitors from Dundee and Tayside, 41% from the rest of Scotland, 14% from the rest of the UK and 9% from the rest of the world, according to the most recent figures. For 41% of visitors V&A Dundee was the sole reason they were visiting the city.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “The opening of V&A Dundee on the city’s waterfront heralded an exciting new chapter for Dundee and the future of design and innovation across our nation. As Scotland’s first design museum, V&A Dundee celebrates this heritage and our achievements in innovation across the ages, promoting Scotland globally and attracting visitors and investment.

“I congratulate V&A Dundee on its incredible first year of success and I look forward to its future exhibitions and development.”

The research by Ekosgen and Reference Economics also found that the construction of V&A Dundee had an economic impact of £35.8 million in Dundee, generating total employment of 501 job years. Across Scotland those figures rise to an economic impact of £70.4 million and employment of 981 job years.

V&A Dundee has also this week published its Final Evaluation Report, a major 150-page document summarising the key achievements from the start of construction until six months after opening. This was produced as part of the funding agreement with the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Dundee City Council leader Councillor John Alexander said: “V&A Dundee has helped to boost the international profile of our city, encouraging people to visit this amazing new museum and our other well-established attractions.

“The city’s partners have a long-term vision to create local jobs and opportunities through investment in top-class facilities like V&A Dundee and the latest economic impact figures show this is already paying off, with record-breaking tourism numbers recorded in 2018.

“I am delighted to help our design museum celebrate its first birthday as we look toward to what can be achieved in the years to come.”

Deirdre Robertson, Chief Executive of Dundee Heritage Trust, said: “We have seen significant increases in visitors to Discovery Point since the opening of V&A Dundee last year. Not only paying visitors to the museum, but footfall across our restaurant and gift shop has been considerably higher.

“The approximate increase in paid visits over the period of September 2018 to August 2019 is 44%, and we can only thank our new neighbour, V&A Dundee, for their part in establishing Dundee as a must-visit tourist destination.”

Later this year V&A Dundee will open Hello, Robot. Design Between Human and Machine on 2 November, a ground-breaking exhibition challenging our assumptions about robots and investigating how they are shaping the world we live in. The exhibition has never been shown in the UK before.

This will be followed by Mary Quant from 4 April 2020 and Night Fever: Designing Club Culture from 31 October 2020, another UK-first exhibition.

V&A Dundee was developed with support from the Scottish Government, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Dundee City Council, the UK Government, Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, University of Dundee, Abertay University and many trusts, companies and private donors.

Timeline of first year:

  • 15 September 2018 – Opening of V&A Dundee, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style major exhibition and Scottish Design Relay in the Michelin Design Gallery
  • 22 September – 27,000 visitors in first week
  • 8 October – 100,000th visitor welcomed
  • 1 December – V&A Dundee featured in new Snowman advert for IRN-BRU
  • 7 January 2019 – Dermot O’Leary announces National Television Awards shortlist at V&A Dundee
  • 29 January – Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially open V&A Dundee
  • 15 February – Rules of Play opens in the Michelin Design Gallery
  • 31 March – 500,000th visitor welcomed
  • 20 April – Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt major exhibition opens
  • 2 June – HBO Succession filming begins with Brian Cox
  • 23 June – BBC Antiques Roadshow films at the museum
  • 27 June – Hands of X opens in the Michelin Design Gallery
  • 6 September – Studio Nicholas Daley opens in the Michelin Design Gallery

Media accolades:

  • TIME Magazine, World’s Greatest Places of 2019
  • Lonely Planet, Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist
  • The Courier Impact 100, number one
  • The Sunday Times, Dundee named as Scotland’s Best Place to Live
  • National Geographic Traveler, Cool List 2019


  • The Scottish Green Energy Awards 2018, Carbon Reduction Award
  • Wallpaper* Design Awards, Best New Public Building
  • Scottish Property Awards 2019, Architectural Excellence (Public Use)
  • Scottish Property Awards 2019, Development of the Year (Public Buildings)
  • RICS Awards Scotland, Tourism and Leisure
  • IoD Scotland, IoD Scotland Award for Transforming Scotland
  • RIAS Awards, Regional Award
  • The Herald Higher Education Awards, Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community
  • RIBA Awards, National Award
  • Architizer A+Awards, Museum – Popular Choice Winner
  • The Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2019, Outstanding Attraction
  • Scottish Design Awards, Architecture: Leisure/Culture Building or Project