Formal opening of the High Mill Open Gallery at Verdant Works, Dundee


14th March 2016

An invited audience of 200 people gathered to witness Sir Neil Cossons perform the opening ceremony – instead of cutting a satin ribbon, a special cake and jute bunting were involved!

Sir Neil is Britain\'s leading authority on industrial heritage. He has had an illustrious career in the museum and heritage sector, including as Director of the Science Museum in London and Chair of English Heritage.  His association with Dundee Heritage Trust goes back over 30 years to when he was involved in helping establish the charity and bring Discovery back to Dundee. He said ’I am delighted to be asked to join in the celebrations tonight as I have enormous affection for Dundee and greatrespect for the role that Dundee Heritage Trust plays in protecting the city’s outstanding industrial heritage. The High Mill development is exceptional for both the quality of the conservation work and the inventiveness of the design which has produced a unique visitor experience.’

Dundee Heritage Trust is enormously proud that our small charity has completed the ambitious project to restore the remaining derelict buildings on the Verdant Works site, almost doubling the size of the museum. The Trust worked with a skilled professional team of curators, architects, designers, engineers and contractors to produce an innovative scheme for the High Mill and Glazed Alley.

The project had a number of aims and has:-

  • Sympathetically restored the ‘A’ listed buildings, creating a full height cathedral-like space to reveal the skeleton of the building and the monumental scale of the architecture
  • Opened up and improved access to the city’s textile heritage
  • Seen new themes interpreted including engineering, power and mill architecture
  • Put significant amounts of the museum’s Recognised Collection of National Significance on public view for the first time
  • Conserved and displayed Dundee City Council’s 1801 Boulton & Watt beam engine, an internationally important object, which is on loan to the Trust via a partnership with Leisure & Culture Dundee. This spectacular and massive object has been restored to working condition via an electric motor and regular demonstrations by a team of staff and volunteers will bring it to life for visitors.
  • Established a History Hub to help people with research into local or family history
  • Created the ‘Red Box’ learning pod where a wide variety of groups can meet to take part in heritage-based activities.
  • Expanded our schools programmes into the areas of science, engineering and technology
  • Developed a vibrant programme of events including dance, drama, music and reminiscence work to engage diverse audiences
  • Created a new post of Learning & Audiences Officer to deliver the schools and community programmes
  • Provided exciting new volunteering opportunities

As Gill Poulter, Heritage Director of Dundee Heritage Trust said When I think where we were less than 2 years ago – the High Mill in a derelict and dangerous stage, on the verge of collapse – to now having such a stunning building, a fantastic new cultural asset for the city. I would like to say thank you to the professional team and the numerous contractors who have achieved such an amazing result in such a short time. I would also like to pay tribute to our funders - the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and 23 other charitable trusts, organisations and individuals - who all had the vision to see the amazing potential of this site and the faith in our organisation that we could deliver it. Their support made this project possible, securing a sustainable future for this nationally important industrial heritage complex.’

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: ‘We are delighted that thanks to players of the National Lottery, High Mill has been transformed to complete this popular five-star museum. Not only does it make for a contemporary visitor experience, it allows the Trust to host new events and exhibitions, and widen their ‘What’s On’ programme. Many more people, from near and far, can now enjoy and learn about the workings of an industry which is woven into the Dundee’s heritage, adding to the city’s growing attraction as a cultural visitor destination.’

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