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A trip to Dundee’s museums

A trip to Dundee’s museums

All staff at Museums Galleries Scotland are given a Personal Development Day which can be used for volunteering, non-work-related training, or wellbeing. I decided to use my day to visit Dundee for the first time with the plan to visit as many museums as I could! I was lucky to visit the Dundee Museum of Transport (DMoT), The McManus and Verdant Works. I’m going to share my favourite experience in each museum along with some fun pictures📷

First stop – DMoT!

I was curious to visit DMoT as I didn’t know much about transport vehicles or their development over time. I was immediately excited when I saw the variety of vintage cars, buses, and emergency vehicles as volunteers were actively encouraging visitors to sit inside them. This was a unique experience (and photo taking opportunity) as I am used to other museums having a ‘no touch’ policy when it comes to their objects.

I wasted no time getting behind the wheel of a 1967 Scottish Aviation Scamp or waving to my friend while sitting in a Dundee Corporation Transport bus 127. It was interesting getting to compare how vehicles looked and felt compared to the ones we have today. It was also fun chatting to the volunteers as they enthusiastically answered my questions and explained the history behind these objects and how they were part of Dundee’s history.

Left: Here I am sitting inside a 1981 Progetti Gestione Ecologiche. Right: Dundee Corporation Transport bus 127 which came into service in 1951

There’s always time for window shopping

I was excited to visit The McManus. I had read online about their diverse collection and noted how beautiful the building was. Inside I found an exhibition called ‘The Street at the McManus’, which reflects on Dundee’s past relationship with retail and licensing trades. The exhibition was made of a ‘street’ that acted like a time capsule – showing visitors the commercial products and clothing that would have been popular decades ago.

This exhibition resonated with me! I grew up enjoying vintage films and TV shows, so having the chance to see these shops up close was a lot of fun. The toy shop was my favourite to peer inside as I liked seeing how children’s toys have adapted over time. I was surprised to see a Sony Play Station 1 and came to the realisation that my own childhood was now being shown in a museum!

Left: A clothing store displaying vintage dresses and outfits. Right: A close up of the contents inside the toy shop

Milling around

One of the most impressive aspects of Verdant Works were the volunteers we spoke to. They truly brought the museums history to life with their knowledge and passion in sharing its story. We were given an interesting tour by a volunteer who was dressed as the Mills Manager. He explained the impact that the jute industry had on Dundee, the mills history, and the lives of the workers. This was a fantastic experience as we were able to ask questions and gain a realistic insight into the industry.

After the tour, we met with two other volunteers who were kind enough to demonstrate how the jute was processed using the mills machinery. This was fascinating as we had the opportunity to touch the jute before and after each stage and experience how the machines worked first hand – I certainly know a lot more about jute after a visit to Verdant Works!

Left: A jute weaving machine Right: Inside the mill

I really enjoyed my time in Dundee’s museums as I had the opportunity to learn about the city’s rich history. The volunteers and museum staff made this a fantastic day out. I would recommend a visit to Dundee and explore this history for yourself!  

Published 12 April 2022