V&A Dundee visitor numbers hit half a million

V&A Dundee has welcomed half a million visitors to the museum since it opened, hitting the milestone almost six months earlier than expected.

The 500,000th person to walk through the doors of Scotland’s first design museum was officially recorded at 10.35 on Saturday 30 March.

V&A Dundee, which opened on 15 September last year, has vastly exceeded original visitor estimates which forecast it would take 12 months to reach half a million visitors. 

People from Dundee, Scotland and all over the world have enjoyed V&A Dundee’s programme of exhibitions and events as well as the remarkable museum building, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

Surveys commissioned by V&A Dundee have found that visitors are being attracted from beyond the immediate Tayside region, with 36% from elsewhere in Scotland, 17% from the rest of the UK and 9% from overseas.

Survey responses also show the opening of V&A Dundee has given its home city new confidence, with 84% of attendees saying the launch festival positively impacted their perception of Dundee.

Director of V&A Dundee Philip Long said: “It has been an extraordinary opening period for V&A Dundee and the support from visitors has surpassed all expectations.

“Amazingly we have welcomed half a million visitors to the museum in a little over six months, our inaugural exhibition has been seen by almost 100,000 people and crowds of over 22,000 turned out to take part in our opening celebrations.

“V&A Dundee is flourishing as a hub of creativity and learning and it’s wonderful to see so many people enjoying it, with many returning time and time again.

“This is just the beginning for V&A Dundee, and the dedicated team behind the museum will continue with our mission to enhance lives through design and to inspire as many people as possible to get involved.”

To date 375,000 visitors have explored V&A Dundee’s Scottish Design Galleries, which tell Scotland’s international design story. These galleries have attracted exceptionally positive visitor survey responses, with 94% saying the overall experience is very good or good, a figure which rises to 100% for Dundee visitors.

The museum’s stunning inaugural exhibition, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, was seen by 95,766 people. V&A Dundee has also held more than 300 events including public lectures, design workshops, tours and school visits and 7,500 museum memberships have already been issued.

The next major exhibition, Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, opens on Saturday 20 April and is the first exhibition to fully consider the complexity of videogames, positioning them as one of the most important design fields of our time.

The museum’s opening two-day celebration, the 3D Festival held in Slessor Gardens and headlined by Primal Scream, was attended by 22,600 people. Audience feedback found that 97% of those who attended the Friday evening event, and 92% who took part in the Saturday activities, rated the event as “good” or “very good”.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “V&A Dundee is a powerful symbol of Dundee’s new confidence and is not only raising the national and international profile of the city but is increasing Scotland’s attractiveness to tourists looking for world class cultural experiences.

“It’s fantastic to see V&A Dundee breaking visitor numbers six months earlier than predicted, showing the incredible success of this prestigious new attraction and that there is a real interest in Scottish design.

“I congratulate those involved in making this such a valuable asset to Scotland in both cultural and economic terms and I look forward to seeing it continue to delight visitors for decades to come.”

The opening of V&A Dundee has coincided with growing visitor numbers at other Dundee cultural attractions. 2018 figures, recently released by ASVA (Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions), showed a 42% increase in the number of visitors to Discovery Point and a 21% increase at Verdant Works. Other attractions in the region, including Arbroath Abbey and Barry Mill also recorded significant increases.

Dundee City Council leader Councillor John Alexander said: “This is an incredible achievement for V&A Dundee in such a short time.

“We can see from the increased visitor numbers at other Dundee attractions that the city is certainly feeling the benefits of the opening of this superb new museum of design.

“Everyone is looking forward to the unveiling of V&A Dundee’s new exhibition and partners in the city are working towards maximising the continuing opportunities for the area from these visitor numbers.

“This is just six months since the museum first opened. I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

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