The V&A’s new director, Leonie Bell, believes the challenges of bringing people together in the climate of coronavirus makes museums more vital than ever.
Ms Bell spoke to the Tele after taking over the reins during a turbulent time for the facility, and others in the city.
The Waterfront attraction was only able to open six weeks ago, and has had to adapt to the ongoing restrictions.
She said the immediate priority is keeping visitors and staff safe during the coronavirus outbreak, however she added she is keen to also move the museum forward.
And Ms Bell also believes the pandemic has given added poignancy to upcoming exhibition Night Fever, which charts the evolution of clubbing, with those venues currently closed with their long-term futures uncertain.
Ms Bell said: “There is an appetite for people to come to a cultural space – although digital is wonderful, there is something about the real where people can come together.
“The priority is keeping people safe but we need to move from reopening to establishing the V&A Dundee as a world class museum and a beacon of design in Scotland.
“The main thing is to keep visitors coming and keep the eyes of the world on us.
“I want to make sure every visitor feels this is their museum and they are welcome – it is because they are here that we are here.
“How we open and run a building of this size with the coronavirus restrictions will affect our income but there is still a desire to come and see the exhibitions.
“We have learned a lot in the first six weeks back after lockdown and it has affected the scheduling of our programmes but we are doing okay because of things like the Dundee Culture Recovery Fund, which shows there is a willingness to see us as a fundamental part of the city.
“There are challenges, no doubt about that, but there is the possibility for us to be better and stronger in the long-term and be something young people growing up are proud to have in their city.”
Since the V&A reopened after the coronavirus lockdown in August it has welcomed 34,000 people through its doors, and this week marks Leonie’s first back living in the city where she spent many of her formative years.
Leonie attended Newport Primary School and Madras College in Fife and said she was excited to be back home.
She said: “Dundee is the place to be and the V&A Dundee has become an emblem of the ambition of the city.
“Culture really matters to a place’s future and its economy, and that matters now more than ever.
“I have been a fan of the V&A Dundee since it was just an idea so I have had my eye on it for a long time but I never thought I would be the next director.
“It is an incredible opportunity and I can bring both local and professional experience.
“Growing up my educational opportunities were not just at school, it was going to the McManus Gallery, Dundee Rep, Wellgate library, the cinema, and with Dundee Contemporary Arts and the art school there is an incredible amount of fantastic opportunities in Dundee.
“I was educated on this side of the river just as much as the other side so it is really emotional to be here, and I don’t say that lightly.
“I am incredibly proud my roots are here.
“As a child having this here was unimaginable but that is the power of a good idea, something unimaginable becomes a reality.”
As a female leader of the museum, Leonie is also keen to make sure more people are represented in the museum as well as reaching out to new audiences.
She said: “I don’t hide my feminism.
“There are a lot of people that have supported me, both men and women, who are feminist.
“I take that role really seriously when developing other people and leading because you can be creative and kind as well as strong and assertive, that is something female leaders do well.
“It is not that men in museums are not brilliant, but there are a lot of people that are not represented and that needs to change.”