70 people attended this Go Dundee event which gave participants the chance to enjoy a guided tour of Dundee’s newly refurbished McManus Art Gallery & Museum shortly after its reopening. The major building and streetscape heritage refurbishment project at McManus cost £11 million and took over three years to complete.
This event also provided an opportunity for participants to contribute to the Go Dundee spin-off activity ‘A Dundee Wave of Change’ which aims to build a people’s future for the city.
- Dundee needs a compelling vision for the future and must be willing to take risks in order to achieve positive change for the city
- Dundee needs to agree its priorities for the future and take action accordingly
- We need to make sure that the people who live and work in Dundee are genuinely engaged in shaping the vision for the city and in delivering it
- Lots of exciting things are happening in the city and we need everyone to act as ambassadors, spreading a spirit of hope and optimism within Dundee and beyond
- McManus demonstrates the hidden gems within the city – we need to make these more visible so that many more people find out about them
During the tour of the McManus, all participants were asked to identify an object in the collection that inspired them in a way that connected to their own story or how they see the story of the City. Here is a list of the objects that people came up with:
WM Low Baked Bean tin – Why?
- it is original, it is early and leading how food evolved
The astrolabe, an ancient navigation instrument, one of the oldest of its kind in the world. Why?
- I’m a sailor so I’m fascinated by these old instruments
- scientific instruments, link to city of discovery
- no explanation as to how it works! you have to figure it out for yourself!
- links to the city’s heritage as a sea port
- it’s a hidden treasure, much, much more could be made of such a fantastic exhibit
Timex exhibit – Why?
- it represents a time of major change in Dundee
- manufacturing gone but manufacturing specialism including R&D remains
- amazing that what was a redundant manufacturing plant became the place for the first games consul to be manufactured
David Batchelor, light sculpture – Why?
- it uses what’s disposed of to be creative, to make something beautiful
- links to the city as it’s memorable, colourful and exciting
- fantastic & different
- was lost for a long time but now found and displayed
The ceilings in McManus – Why?
- they’ve been revealed
- never seen them before
- suspect they’ve always been here but I just didn’t notice them!
Todd – contemporary art – Why?
- saw three or four pieces of contemporary art, really moved me
- link to DCA – part of trustees
- unexpected! – didn’t expect to see contemporary art here
Stone ball, 3,500 years old – Why?
- connected to people lives all that time ago
- was invented and useable
- mundane object? used for what?
- wonder what objects we are using now that will end up in a museum in 3,500 years?
- they had courage and vision
- they used established networks which were significant
- exhibit told stories about Dundee and Dundee people that was hidden – we didn’t know about it!
- if we don’t know something, we can’t promote it!
Big change in the building! – Why?
- prior to renovation it was a dark, cramped, damp, foosty place that had a smell!
- now it’s the opposite! – amazingly ‘open’
- sense of freedom and empty space with lots of light
- opportunity to bring in new and old exhibits
- the doors are now in the right place, especially the front door – allows people to access easily with no barriers
- demonstrates new ways of thinking that connect with the old
Other objects discussed:
- ecological lights
- lilac pool from 1944
- pictish girl – a wee girl just like this building
- stories of two D.C Thompson’s women – Bessie and Marie – who travelled the world
- flying boat and Dundee’s connection with the rest of the world
- two women having a good blether
- model of the city centre
LESSONS LEARNED FROM McMANUS
- Dundee needs more things like McManus!
- The McManus art gallery and museum is amazing – key people in the city had real vision and courage, they took risks and didn’t settle for anything other than the best – great credit to them and to the city.
- We would like more young people to be involved and see the new museum – Dundee has been associated with poverty and social problems for too long and it is amazing to see what has been done at McManus
- McManus represents hopeful things about Dundee and makes me more optimistic
- I’ve been here a lot since it reopened and have had to elbow my way in!
- McManus offers a fantastic view of Dundee and hope for the future – a holistic view of the city with games and lots of other gems
- I’m excited about the link with the proposed V&A at Dundee project
- Dundee city centre needs a walking trail (e.g. linking to DCA/Rep) like they have in the pavements in Boston USA (Freedom Trail)
- It’s great to look back on Dundee and its history and it’s amazing how often, and in how many different areas, Dundee has been (and still is in many ways) in the forefront – and could be even more so again!
- McManus summarises the spirit of Dundee – outward looking, forward thinking, risk taking
- We need, at various times, to ‘dare to be different’ and ‘dare to be the same’ – we always need to ‘dare to care’
- Visitors used to be 200 a week – now 200 a day!
- I’ll be back to McManus again, many times, with friends – it’s amazing
- We all need to be ambassadors for the city
- A colleague comes here every day for ½ hr for lunch – spends 30 minutes with a different exhibit and absorbs it in depth
- Guided tours for McManus are available – on your iPhone!
- Good to see rejuvenation of civic space – ownership and release, opening up and making visible and accessible
- Helps people understand who they are and their place in the world!
OUR ROLE IN DEVELOPING & DELIVERING A VISION FOR DUNDEE
- In order to develop a vision for the city, we must identify and agree our top priorities
- Improve community engagement and empowerment and “join up the voices”
- Promote honest, frank communication
- Must look at what is already working and build on that
- We need more events like Go Dundee
- Work more closely with employers to attract additional funding for good ideas
- Maximise planning gain from private developments for the benefit of Dundee’s people
- Need to understand what Dundee has lost in the past 50-100 years as well as what it has gained – forgotten Dundee has to have a voice
- Support Dundee’s internationally recognised games industry
- Develop an ‘Active Dundee’ campaign, e.g. make better use of existing cycle paths and build new cycle paths
- Develop more green spaces throughout the city (helps mental and physical well-being, especially in the city centre)
- Joined-up transport system, e.g. bus-rail interchange
- Develop children’s play areas in the city centre (and elsewhere) and improve children’s health
- Promote word of mouth about the city – local and oral history is important
- Dundee is the only city in Scotland with a full-time rep theatre company – create more unique successes in the city
- Dundee has good shopping but we need to develop a more lively city centre atmosphere
- Many aspects of Dundonian life are attractive to those living in Fife, Angus, etc. so develop Dundee’s role as the centre of a city region
- We must challenge the lack of positivity in the city and tackle the issues of poverty and disadvantage
- People loving Dundee also misunderstand Dundee and only celebrate a narrow, small part of the city – we need to develop Dundee within a holistic context
- Are these Dundee concerns or are they universal – the solutions are part Dundonian and part of a universal conversation