Raising The V&A Dundee’s £80 Million

The Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships at V&A Dundee, Barry Ferguson, has a right to be proud of the new design museum 


V&A Dundee

Barry Ferguson

You’ve been in a similar role for Scottish Chamber Orchestra – how have you found this new role?

The job is quite similar, but it’s been pretty hectic over the last few months at V&A Dundee!

We’re launching a new museum as well as setting everything up for a new organisation from scratch. Our fundraising model is to raise a third of our operating costs from revenue and income from the museum, a third through fundraising and the remaining third through the public sector.

It’s ambitious, but the significant profile of V&A Dundee helps. When we meet potential funders they already know a lot about the museum and what we’re aiming to achieve.


Most folk will think that once V&A Dundee is up and running, you can take a back seat and let things go. But it’s a continual process isn’t it?

Yes, like most cultural organisations in Scotland we are fortunate to receive public funding, but we also need to raise around a third of our annual budget from private fundraising – in excess of £1m a year!

The fundraising will come from a mixture of individual donors – and we have options for people to support at all levels, the corporate sector and from trusts and foundations. It’s an ongoing philanthropic process, and our role is to engage with and bring on board donors and sponsors on annual basis to support our exhibitions and learning programmes.


V&A Dundee

A third of V&A Dundee’s operating costs come from visitor income. Pic: Andrew Cawley.


What was the level of support from the V&A in London?

Our colleagues in South Kensington have been incredibly supportive. The V&A is also one of the founding partners of V&A Dundee, along with Dundee City Council, Abertay University, University of Dundee and Scottish Enterprise. Your readers may be aware many of the objects in the museum have come from the V&A’s collections.

Behind the scenes we’ve had invaluable curatorial support and lots of advice and guidance. V&A Dundee is part of the V&A family, with access to expertise, objects and exhibitions as well as its global brand. We do have our own board and management, however, who can ensure we deliver the project’s aims in terms of playing our part in the regeneration of Dundee. It’s the best of both worlds, really.


What excites you most about the building?

The building is incredible, and it’s an absolute privilege to be able to come here to work every day. In terms of architecture, it’s beyond cutting edge. We’ve been so lucky to have Kengo Kuma design the building given the scale of projects he undertakes – the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium, for example.

I love the interior even more than the outside. The sense of space and light and the views down the River Tay in each direction are stunning. To have a genuinely world-class building and museum in Dundee is amazing. We have to pinch ourselves regularly!


Did the measure and quantity of sponsorship etc reflect the prestige and status of the building?

The building has cost just over £80m. Significant sums have come from public funders including the Scottish Government, Dundee City Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the UK Government and Creative Scotland.

The private fundraising target was £15m, which we are delighted to say had been reached in advance of opening. This is a record for a capital campaign for a cultural institution in Scotland. We are particularly pleased that the most of this has come from individuals, businesses and trusts in the Dundee area. We have also received support from throughout Scotland, the UK and internationally.

All of our donors have recognised what we are trying to achieve – that this is not just about V&A Dundee and creating an excellent cultural institution, but about the regeneration of the city and improving the lives of those who live and work here.


Can you sum up the museum, at least your thoughts on it, in a few words?

It’s stunning in every way and it’s in our city, our bit of Scotland. It’s the most exciting thing to happen in Tayside in generations – and the world is watching!!


Take a walk through the new exhibitions with our Insider Gallery here!