Dundee’s McManus museum has added the accolade of Scotland’s best visitor attraction to its spectacular displays charting millennia of city history.
At the Scottish Thistle Awards final in Edinburgh, the Victorian Gothic building which houses a city museum collection spanning 400 million years of history saw off tough competition from across the country to scoop the top title.
Delighted bosses at the city centre attraction have thanked the public for their continued support, a decade on from the £12 million restoration of the stunning building known locally as the Peoples museum.
Now in their 27th year, the 2019/20 Thistle Awards saw almost 600 entries submitted, including more than 1,000 nominations from members of the public.
The museum saw off tough competition from the Edinburgh Dungeon, Delgatie Castle Trust, Heads of Ayr Farm Park and Isle of Raasay Distillery to claim the prestigious prize.
Billy Gartley, head of cultural services at Leisure & Culture Dundee said: “We are absolutely delighted to win this award as we have been working hard to make the McManus even more appealing to visitors.
“We are also excited to play our part in the region’s tourism success and can’t wait to welcome visitors from home and abroad to our beautiful galleries.
The award comes on the back of a bumper spell for the McManus, which included record numbers in 2018, helped by the thousands who flocked to the Bash Street’s Back at The McMenace celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Beano comic.
“That helped us to our best year ever, and we are really pleased with the numbers again this year,” added Mr Gartley.
The museum features eight open gallery spaces, featuring internationally-significant items and displays giving a fascinating insight into Dundee and its development.
“The building itself is a bit of a star, but there are so many things which people love about The McManus,” said Mr Gartley.
The museum has hosted Titian’s masterpiece Diana and Actaeon with the National Galleries of Scotland and partnered V&A, the Royal Collection, British Museum, National Museums of Scotland and the Tate in showing major exhibitions.
The Land Rover Experience Scotland based at Dunkeld was honoured as the country’s best outdoor/adventure experience in the awards.
Daring doo and light fantastic keep visitors coming back to McManus
McManus favourites range from the mini to the mighty.
Daring doo Winkie was a Dundee World War Two heroine, flying 120 miles homes to Broughty Ferry when the Leuchars-based bomber she was in was shot down and ditched in the North Sea.
The homing pigeon alerted her owner in February 1942, ensuring the rescue of the entire aircrew and winning the bird the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
The monster McManus exhibit is the skeleton of the famous Tay Whale, a 40-foot long specimen harpooned off the Mearns coast in 1883 by Dundee sailors who pursued the 16.5 tonne animal from the Tay.
Immortalised in prose by city poet William McGonagall, its bones are a reminder of the place Dundee once held as the UK’s most important whaling port.
In the Victorian gallery, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s pre-Raphaelite masterpiece ‘Dante’s Dream on the Day of the Death of Beatrice’ is a gem among the many treasures.
And with the advent of social media, the museum’s most Instagrammed display is Waldella, Dundee a coloured display of hundreds of low energy lamps, stretching more than 10m metres in length and commissioned from city artist David Batchelor to celebrate the attraction’s £12m refurbishment.