The Collection

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The City’s diverse and wide-ranging collections reflect the story of Dundee and its hinterland, and also evidence the City’s role in the rich history of Scottish art. The collections include objects of national and international significance.

Leisure and Culture Dundee are proud to curate and care for these accredited collections which are held in trust on behalf of the people of Dundee.

Dundee’s fine art, applied art and whaling industry collections have recognised status, awarded to collections of national significance by the Scottish Government. Click here for more information about the Recognition Scheme.

The collections are displayed within The McManus, Broughty Castle, Mills Observatory, The Steeple and City Chambers. The research collection is accessible in store and can be viewed at The McManus or The McManus Collections Unit by appointment. We are currently working on an improved online catalogue.

Fine and applied art

These collections reflect three centuries of developments in Scottish and European art, with a strong Dundee twist. At its core is an outstanding group of 19th and 20th century Scottish painting which demonstrates the City’s wealth and importance as a centre for the exhibiting and teaching of art. The wider collection encompasses historic Dundee silver, Scottish pottery, studio ceramics and glass, sculpture and artist prints. Contemporary developments including Scotland’s pivotal role in the development of fine art photography are also reflected.

Archaeology, history and world cultures

The history collections evidence human activity in Dundee and its hinterland from hunters and gatherers 6,000 years ago to the present day. The collections illustrate the development of the City and its industries – historic whaling, jute and shipbuilding and its contemporary biotech and gaming industries. Highlights include Pictish and medieval carved stones, material associated with Mary Slessor and her work in Nigeria and Winkie the Pigeon, who won the Dicken medal for bravery during WWII. People’s history is reflected in household items and costume. Objects from cultures across the world reflect Dundee’s role as a port and its history as a centre for exploration.

Natural history

From tiny snails to giant whales, the natural history collections reflect the wildlife of Dundee and its surrounding landscape. The geology collection has fossils which tell the story of prehistoric life in the Devonian period, 400 million years ago; and includes local gemstones such as agates. The herbarium throws light on the work of pioneering botanists such as Ursula K Duncan. The extensive collection of birds, mammals and fish demonstrates the richness of the Tay valley. The largest collections are invertebrates and contain shells, brightly coloured moths and butterflies, beetles, dragonflies amongst other natural wonders.

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