The McManus Galleries were designed by architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. They originally opened in 1867 as the Albert Institute as a memorial to Queen Victoria’s recently deceased husband. A further gallery, the Victoria Gallery was added later. The building was built in the Gothic Revival style. George Gilbert Scott had recently completed St Nicholas’ cathedral in Hamburg and had completed a study tour of Germany and France to perfect the gothic style seen in cathedrals etc there.
The McManus was built on former marshland, immediately north of the old city walls of Dundee, and this has caused problems for the building over the years. However, a recent extensive renovation programme brought the facility into the 21st century and it is now a ‘must see’ attraction in the heart of the City. The ‘revitalised’ Art Gallery and Museum re-opened to the public in 2010. This restoration was funded by Dundee City Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Union and Historic Scotland, with additional contributions from The McManus Fundraising Appeal. (More info: McManus Refurbishment | the mcmanus).
There are eight fabulous Galleries with displays featuring for example Scottish and International paintings and local history of Dundee and the surrounding area. There is a nice café that is ideal for a lunch stop on your walking route.
Some of the European highlights we spotted in the Gallery include:
The ship was built in Dundee for Antoine-Dominique Bordes & Fils of Bordeaux. Antoine-Dominique Bordes created the largest sailing ship shipping company in the world until the 20th century, with 137 ships. (Information that can be translated from German about this shipping company: Antoine-Dominique Bordes – Wikipedia
A striking bronze casting of a girl’s head. The work, entitled “Joan”, is by the renowned Scottish sculptor Benno Schotz, who was born into a Jewish family in Estonia in 1891, when that country was part of the Russian Empire. Schotz was educated in Estonia and in Germany and, in 1912, came to Glasgow to study engineering. Later, while working for a firm of shipbuilders, he attended evening classes at the Glasgow School of Arts and began his career as a sculptor in 1923. Schotz achieved considerable prominence in the Scottish art world and was head of the Department of Sculpture and Ceramics at the art school from 1938 to 1961.
Joan, the subject of the bronze sculpture, cast in 1933, was the daughter of William Boyd, a Dundee art collector whose patronage greatly assisted Schotz at the outset of his artistic career. The McManus Gallery also contains the painting (a smaller replica of an earlier work) Dante’s Dream on the Day of the Death of Beatrice by the English Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was a great admirer of the medieval Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri. Rossetti’s father, a revolutionary Italian nationalist, sought political exile in Britain in 1821.
On the exterior wall of The McManus, you can see a small blue plaque proclaiming the name Katherine Read, Artist, (1723-1778). This Dundee born woman artist studied in Edinburgh, Rome and Paris and amongst many commissions in her career, she was commissioned to paint Queen Charlotte and her children. The McManus has purchased her portrait of Willielma, Lady Glenorchy, painted in 1762.
The Royal Arch at Dock Street in 1863, painted by James Falconer. The arch was built to celebrate the visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and in this painting the Danish Royal Standard can be seen flying from the arch to celebrate the marriage of Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria, to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. The Arch was demolished in 1964, as part of land reclamation work required for the construction of the Tay Road Bridge.
Access : There are two disabled parking spaces located to the north of the building and more information about access is provided here: Visitor Information | the mcmanus
We hope you have enjoyed your visit to the McManus galleries.
Walking Route Instructions : We now come out of the McManus Galleries and you should spot the DC Thomson Buildings just across the road.