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Discovery Point: Half of money raised to give Dundee’s iconic visitor attraction huge £12 million transformation

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Dundee’s iconic Discovery Point is set to undergo a £12 million transformation – with more than half the funds already secured.

The project will see the attraction – home to RRS Discovery – given a major overhaul.

And the new features, which will include a “dome experience”, are set to have a focus on climate change and the environment.

It is the latest big development at Dundee Waterfront, following on from the opening of the city’s urban beach next to the V&A last week.

RRS Discovery with the V&A in the background.

The project – which was first unveiled last year – 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.

Discovery Point funding upgrade
An artist’s impression of the new Discovery Point reception area.

This £5m of funding adds to more than £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 rest of the balance.

What can visitors expect at new-look Discovery Point?

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

  • ‘Think Global, Act Local’ climate change gallery – this will highlight the international significance of the RRS Discovery and its expeditions, and their connections to the major global issues of climate change and the ocean environment.
An artist’s impression of the upgraded Discovery and Discovery Point,
  • The Dundee Dome Experience – a new area for visitors in the roof space of the attraction. This will offer 360° panoramic views of the city, Waterfront and River Tay and featuring Gaia, a piece by world-famous environmental artist, Luke Jerram. This is due to open in 2022.
  • RRS Discovery – conservation and preservation of the ship that took Scott and Shackleton to the Antarctic in the days when that was as unthinkable as space travel. A recent specialist survey has identified several critical areas for conservation.
An artist’s impression of the Dundee Dome Experience.
  • 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 ‘blockbusters’ exhibitions.
The planned Climate Change Gallery.

There will also be a refurbishment of existing galleries, a new river-facing café/restaurant and events space, enhanced conference facilities, a new reception and environmental improvements.

Project bosses are also promising an extensive education programme for schools and the wider community.

What is the timescale for the work?

Phase one of Discovery Point Transformed – the fully funded Dundee Dome Experience – will open for the 2022 tourist season.

The remainder of the capital works – phase two – is expected to take place between 2023 and 2025.

Discovery Point will stay open throughout the project.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.
Economy Secretary Kate Forbes.

Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “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.”

‘Visitors, jobs and investment to Dundee’

Jim Pettigrew, chair of Dundee Heritage Trust – which runs Discovery Point – said: “The transformation of Discovery Point will have a huge impact on the city, bringing visitors, jobs and investment to Dundee and helping to put the city on the map as a global destination for green tourism.

“We are delighted to have secured this financial support – a huge vote of confidence in our plans.

“There now begins a major public funding drive to raise a further £6m, which is necessary to unlock a significant proportion of the money committed so far.”

The new facilities will offer panoramic views of the river.

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