Dundee's £12 million heritage transformation plans unveiled



Dundee’s Discovery Point is set to be completely transformed after securing substantial financial backing from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

In recent years, Scotland’s fourth largest city has become home to the V&A Dundee and will soon host a Scottish version of the Eden Project.

Discovery Point has long been a tourist attraction with its famous scientific research ship the RRS Discovery.

The new project has been awarded £900,000 of Scottish Government funding through the Tay Cities Culture and Tourism Investment Programme, with another £1.6m approved subject to a successful match-funding drive.

A further £316,000 initial investment has been awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with another £2.55m expected if plans progress as anticipated.

This £5m of funding adds to over £1m already raised from a combination of Dundee Heritage Trust’s own funds, grants and donations from a range of trusts and foundations, high net worth individuals and corporate sponsors.

This puts the project over the halfway mark to being fully funded, with two years to raise the balance.

The project, run by the Dundee Heritage Trust, aims to transform one of Dundee’s most popular visitor attractions from a traditional heritage museum into a multi-element visitor attraction, with a strong emphasis on climate change and environmental sustainability.

Discovery Point will have five new or substantially revamped major attractions:

  • ‘Think Global, Act Local’ climate change gallery – a new attraction, highlighting the international significance of the Discovery and its expeditions, and their connections to the major global issues of climate change and the ocean environment.
  • The Dundee Dome Experience – a new visitor centre in this previously inaccessible roof space at the top of the Discovery Point Dome, offering panoramic views of the city, waterfront and River Tay and featuring Gaia, the artwork by environmental artist Luke Jerram.
  • RRS Discovery – conservation and preservation of this world heritage asset, the ship that took Scott and Shackleton to the Antarctic in the days when that was as unthinkable as space travel.
  • A new permanent gallery – using the site of the current café, the gallery will focus on polar exploration, including the infamous ‘Race to the Pole’ which dominated Captain Scott’s ill-fated second expedition to the Antarctic, and the life story of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who sailed first to the Antarctic on board Discovery in 1901.
  • A new gallery for temporary and special exhibitions – this will allow Discovery Point to host a greater range of temporary exhibitions – either developed in-house or touring exhibitions – and the potential to host larger scale ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions.
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In addition, the transformation will include refurbishment of existing galleries; the development of a new river-facing café/restaurant and events space; expanded and enhanced conference and event facilities; a redesigned entrance and reception area; environmental improvements to meet low carbon targets; and a programme of learning for schools and the wider community.

Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “I’m pleased to see the latest step in the delivery of the Regional Culture and Tourism Investment Programme, supported through the Tay Cities Region Deal.

“We are investing £37m in projects across the region to ensure it continues to excel in its offer to residents and visitors alike.

“I’m delighted that our funding will help Discovery Point enhance their offering and, in particular, emphasise the importance of climate change as Scotland prepares to host COP26 in November.”

Phase one of the plan – the already funded Dundee Dome Experience – is set to open for the 2022 tourist season.

The remainder of the capital works – phase two – is expected to take place between 2023 and 2025, with both Discovery Point and Dundee’s Social History Museum and Scotland’s Jute Museum at Verdant Works staying open throughout.

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