The McManus, built in 1867, is Dundee’s main art gallery and museum. It’s located close to City Square and takes visitors on a journey through 400 million years of history. The museum features exhibits and artefacts from the region surrounding Dundee as well as further afield in Central Scotland.

McManus Museum
Address:Albert Square,
Opening Hours:Mon to Sat 10 am-5 pm
Sun 12.30-4.30 pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:No on-site parking. 2 disabled spaces. Paid car parks across Dundee.
Contact:+44 (0)1382 307200
Facilities:Shop, toilets, baby change, cafe, wheelchair and pushchair access
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video


The McManus Museum and Art Gallery in Dundee is one of the city’s foremost attractions and is notable for the beautiful building that houses the fascinating collections exploring the fields of fine art, natural history, modern industry, the local landscape, and more.

While the V&A Design Museum (which you can read about in The V&A Dundee) manages to wow crowds with its ultra-modern architecture, the McManus manages to go the other way entirely with a magnificent Victorian Gothic Revival building that oozes history from every 150-year-old nook and cranny.

Stand at the front of the building, look up, and prepare to be transported into a Harry Potter book with sculptured stone archways, dramatic conical towers, elaborate carvings, and cathedral-like lead-lined windows catching your eye from every direction.

It’s like Hogwarts’ smaller Scottish cousin, and the Caledonian theme continues with a bronze statue of Dundee’s favourite cartoon character, Oor Wullie sitting on the wall outside the entrance with his legendary bucket close at hand.

The building was originally commissioned as a memorial to Prince Albert and was called the Albert Institute when it opened in 1867. After that, it slowly developed into today’s modern museum through a series of alterations, most notably in 1889 when an additional four art galleries and four museum galleries were added.

Stepping inside the main entrance hall will start your journey through 400 million years of history. State-of-the-art displays depict the area surrounding Dundee from the dawn of the continent right up to modern times, and there are lots of artefacts that show how mankind shaped the region over thousands of years.

McManus Museum

The Highlights

1: The MacManus Museum is much bigger than you might initially think, and there are enough things to look at that it will occupy a good hour or two. On a wet afternoon, this has to be one of the best attractions in Dundee.

2: The McManus hosts eight different galleries, each offering a unique perspective on various aspects of local history, culture, and the natural world. From fine and decorative art to archaeology and the history of Dundee, there’s a wide array of exhibits to explore.

3: The building itself is an architectural highlight and is considered one of the most significant examples of Victorian Gothic architecture in Scotland. Visitors can enjoy the beautifully restored interiors and the striking exterior façade, which is a work of art in itself.

Visiting Tips

1: Visitors often forget the lovely coastal town of St. Andrews, which is just a 30-minute drive south of Dundee. After the McManus Museum, consider visiting St. Andrew’s Cathedral and St. Andrews Aquarium.

2: If you go by car, you’ll find car parks on Bank Street, which is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the McManus.

3: Opposite the McManus is Howff Graveyard, which was established in 1564 and houses one of the most historically important tombstone collections in Scotland. The graveyard is open to visitors at no cost, though tourists should bear in mind that it’s an active burial ground.

McManus Museum

Tourist Information

To start your visit, I recommend first walking around the exterior to appreciate the architecture before stepping inside, so begin outside the reception area in Albert Square and head off in either direction.

The opposite side of the building features a regal statue of Queen Victoria, while the front is worth taking the time to snap a photo thanks to its restored stained-glass windows and the Victorian Grand Stairs. The museum was given an £8 million makeover in 2005 and it really shows. No wonder it’s now classified as a Category A-listed building.

Once back at the reception area, you’ll be offered a portable audio tour for a small fee, which is worth getting as there’s so much to see you’ll struggle to decide which route to take, but there are guides on hand on each floor to point you in the right direction in case you get lost.

The reception area is home to a decent shop so you can get a memento or two of your visit, and there’s a very good café next door that has outside seating in the summer months. I have to admit the food there is pretty good, and it’s a nice space to munch away on a slice of cake. Top marks for that one, McManus.

McManus Museum

Heading through the reception area on the ground floor will take you into the Landscapes and Lives gallery and the Making of Modern Dundee gallery, both of which are fascinating and are a great way to learn about the city’s history.

Heading up to the first floor will take you through the modern galleries, where 18th-century artworks rub shoulders with 20th-century pieces, along with historic artefacts excavated from around Dundee.

The Dundee and the World gallery, housed in the stunning Albert Hall, features a collection of fascinating objects in glass display cases, but it’s the room itself that’s most impressive. Look up, and you’ll see stained-glass windows and a vaulted wooden roof that wouldn’t appear out of place in a cathedral. Equally attractive is the Victoria Gallery with its bright and airy glass ceiling, ornate plasterwork, and beautiful collection of oil paintings that date from the mid-1700s through the early 1900s.

Next, after you’ve meandered around the exhibits and artworks, you might like to head to the first floor which is home to a gallery that showcases ceramics and oil paintings from the 20th century, as well as the Creative Learning Suite where the museum team offers hands-on activities and workshops.

McManus Museum

Things to Do

Exploring Scotland’s Natural History: Step back in time and explore Scotland’s natural history. The McManus Museum houses an array of fossils, minerals, and wildlife exhibits that paint a vivid picture of the country’s past. You’ll have the opportunity to see animal exhibits, understand Dundee’s geology, and learn about Scotland’s ancient tribes, making it a perfect activity for both children and adults.

Learning Scottish History: Dive into Scotland’s vibrant history and culture through McManus Museum’s eight galleries. Explore the fascinating tales of the people who lived and shaped Scotland from the prehistoric era to the present day. Each gallery is filled with fascinating artefacts, artworks, and interactive displays.

Participating in Art Workshops: Unleash your creativity with the museum’s Creative Learning Team. The McManus Museum regularly hosts workshops where you can learn various art techniques from skilled artists.

Attending Special Events and Exhibitions: The McManus Museum isn’t just a museum; it also serves as a venue for various cultural events throughout the year. Be sure to check their event schedule and catch a lecture, film screening, or special exhibition.

Admiring the Victorian Architecture: The building itself is a masterpiece. Spend some time admiring the stunning Victorian Gothic architecture of the building, which is renowned for its intricate stone carvings, grand staircases, and beautiful stained glass windows. The building is as much a part of the experience as the collections it houses.

MacManus Museum

Things to Do Nearby

V&A Dundee. 1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee, DD1 4EZ. 11-minute walk.
The main design museum in Scotland is open for public viewing at no charge, though certain exhibitions are paid-entry only. There are galleries on the upper level and a shop and café on the floor level.

Dundee Law, Law Rd., Dundee DD3. 32-minute walk.
This is a historic natural landmark overlooking Dundee, with scenic views from the top and a variety of nature trails. A monument at the summit stands where an ancient fortification once stood over 3,000 years ago.

Mills Observatory. Balgay Park, Glamis Rd., Dundee, DD2 2UB. 40-minute walk.
Britain’s first public-built observatory is situated in a scenic woodland. Visitors can watch stars and planets through the telescopes, and there is a gift shop on site. Entry is free.

Dundee Museum of Transport. 10 Market Mews, Market St., Dundee, DD1 3LA. 21-minute walk.
A museum dedicated to Scotland’s transport history. A range of exhibits cover trams, rail, shipping, and cars, and many of the displays can be interacted with.

D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum, Carnelley Building, University of Dundee, DD1 4HN. 13-minute walk.
A natural history museum founded in the 1880s that is part of Dundee University. The museum is open to the public on certain days only. See the university website for details.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed in the McManus Dundee?

McManus Dundee’s policy is to not allow dogs, except for assistance dogs.

What is the history of the McManus Museum in Dundee?

The McManus Museum was originally constructed in the 1860s as a memorial to Queen Victoria’s late husband, Prince Albert. The architect George Gilbert Scott created it, and its initial name was “The Albert Institute.”

The museum was officially opened to the public in 1867, but due to structural problems, it had to be rebuilt and was opened again in 1873. Over the years, the building served multiple purposes as a library, a museum, and an art gallery.

In 1983, it was renamed ‘The McManus Galleries’ in honour of Maurice McManus, a former Lord Provost of Dundee. Then, in the early 2000s, the museum underwent significant renovations and refurbishments, reopening in 2010 as ‘The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum’.

How many museums are there in Dundee?

Museums in Dundee include:
V&A Dundee: This is the first ever design museum in Scotland and the only other V&A museum anywhere in the world outside London.
The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum: This is a Gothic Revival-style building, offering a collection of fine and decorative art as well as a natural history collection.
Dundee Museum of Transport: The museum houses a collection of vehicles and models spanning 200 years of transport history.
Verdant Works is a popular visitor attraction that tells the story of Dundee’s industrial textile heritage.
HMS Unicorn is one of the six oldest ships in the world and Scotland’s only preserved warship, housed in a dock in the city.

When is the McManus Museum open?

The McManus Museum is open.
Mon to Sat: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sun: 12.30–4:30 p.m.
The last entry is 15 minutes before the gallery closing time.

Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.