AD – This post is a partnership with VisitScotland & Museum Galleries Scotland
Dundee is known as the City of Discovery, packed with history and interesting things to see and do. Keen to make our own discoveries, we headed off for a day trip to the city with a visit to The McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee. It was a great day and I’m now excited to share this wheelchair accessible review of my visit.
About The McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee
The McManus Art Gallery and Museum in Dundee opened in 1867 as The Albert Institute, a memorial to Prince Albert. The Victorian Gothic Revival building houses eight galleries with an interesting collection of fine art, natural history, and the environment for a fascinating insight into Dundee.
The outside of the building is just as interesting as the inside. I encourage you to take some time to admire the beautiful Gothic architecture of the stone archways, carvings and spires.
Not only that, the Oor Wullie statue is worth taking the time to snap a photo with. Kids (and adults) will love it! As you can probably tell by my face in the photo below.
How to get to The McManus Dundee & Accessible Parking
The McManus Museum is located in the city centre close to City Square. The Overgate and Wellgate Shopping Centres are both a short walk from the museum if you fancy a little retail therapy afterwards.
There is no on-site parking apart from two blue badge parking bays, which are available to the north (rear) of the museum. Both spaces were available when we arrived so we were able to park our wheelchair accessible vehicle easily.
The large parking spaces and flat monoblock paths provided smooth level access for getting in and out of my WAV.
There are good public transport links to The McManus Museum if you are travelling to Dundee by bus or train.
Wheelchair access at The McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee
McManus Museum entrance
The rear entrance to the museum is only a short walk/roll from the accessible parking. There is a very slight gradual ramp and two double doors at the entrance. As we approached, the doors opened and a friendly member of staff greeted us with a smile.
Once inside the reception area, the staff member asked if this was our first time visiting. Since it was, she then asked if we wanted to tour the galleries first or visit the museum cafe and that she would be happy to give us more information and directions when we were ready.
The reception area features a beautiful tiled floor and gothic arched ceilings. We loved it. There is also a shop and cafe located in the reception area.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert also welcomed us to the museum. They were wearing face masks which I thought added a fun touch, but also a friendly reminder.
And of course, I had to squeeze between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for a photo.
The McManus Cafe
We arrived around lunchtime so decided to grab something to eat first. The McManus Cafe is a bright and airy space with high ceilings and large stained glass windows. (I love stained glass).
The cafe is a lovely spot to enjoy a light meal or tea and cake even if you don’t plan to visit the museum itself.
We sat next to one of the windows and ordered from the vegan menu. I had a delicious five bean chilli baked potato and Allan opted for cheese and beans as the filling for his baked potato.
What to see at The McManus Museum Dundee
Galleries on the ground floor
After lunch, we made our way through the reception area which lead us into the Landscapes and Lives gallery. This provides a journey 400 million years into the city’s past and the creation of its natural landscape. Here you will learn about the animals and people that lived in Dundee all those years ago.
Continuing through the ground floor into the Making of Modern Dundee gallery for a look at the development and successes of the city and its people. This gallery showcases what shaped Dundee from shopping, work and world wars.
Although much of it was before my time, I recognised the ‘Wm Low’ logo. I’ve never lived in Dundee but we had a Wm Low supermarket in our small town and I remember my mum doing the weekly food shop there during my childhood.
I assumed it was UK-wide, but Allan lived in a different area from me and didn’t have a Wm Low. Do you remember Wm Low?
You’ll also see the well-known Beano, Broons, Oor Wullie and Bunty on display. Nostalgia at its finest.
Galleries on the first floor
We then took the lift that was large enough to accommodate several wheelchair users at once, up to the first floor.
We entered the 20th Century Gallery which currently houses the free exhibition ‘A Love Letter to Dundee: Joseph McKenzie Photographs 1964-1987’.
It was interesting to look at the stunning black and white photographs that document “the changing fortunes of the City and its people.”
I was able to get a sense of what life was like between the 60s and 80s.
I always find it interesting to see the fashions and hairstyles from that time and the typical lifestyles.
For instance, a photograph of a young boy in a child’s pushchair caught my eye. From a distance, I thought it was a wheelchair. But as I got up close and read about this photograph titled ‘motorised gang’ I learnt that “after they had served their time as baby carriages, washie-tannies were relegated to carrying the laundry to and from the steamie…when the chassis was knackered you were left with a perfect set of wheels for a piler.”
The Dundee and the World gallery is set in the stunning Albert Hall. The room is impressive, to say the least. I couldn’t help but look up at the high wooden vaulted ceiling and beautiful stained glass windows.
This gallery explores Dundee’s long involvement in international trade. You’ll also find Oor Wullie again. I couldn’t resist posing beside him.
We then wandered around The Victoria Gallery which is designed to look like an authentic Victorian Art Gallery. The room features curved red walls, a vaulted glass ceiling and a collection of historic oil paintings dating from 1750-1914.
The curved walls give visitors a better view of the paintings, especially the paintings that are hung higher up the wall. This is super helpful for wheelchair users too.
Our favourite painting was ‘Moorland and Mist, 1893 by Peter Graham. The painting depicts a misty highland landscape with Highland cattle that lived on Graham’s country estate in Buckinghamshire.
My photo of the painting doesn’t really show how amazing it is, but trust me it was stunning and incredibly realistic. It is like looking at a photograph.
There is also a Creative Learning Suite on the first floor of The McManus. Here you can enjoy hands-on activities and artist-led workshops, projects and events. The learning suite also provides learning resources, talks and seminars.
We checked out ‘The Street at The McManus’ exhibition which takes you on a walk/roll down memory lane. From old toy shops to browsing the fashion from that time to popping into the old bar.
This exhibition looks back on 150 years of retail and brewing history. It is available to visit until Sunday 8th January 2023.
Wheelchair access in the galleries of The McManus Museum Dundee
As a powered wheelchair user, I was able to move around easily and access each gallery without difficulty. The open spaces made it an enjoyable and comfortable experience to roll throughout the entire museum at my own pace. I was able to see the displays and exhibits from wheelchair height.
There are wheelchairs available for loan from the reception area if required.
- The reception area is fitted with an induction loop.
- Room thresholds have lighting to assist visitors with partial sight.
- Displays have large text and colour coding.
- Guide dogs, hearing dogs and assistance dogs are welcome in the museum.
- Seating is available throughout the museum.
The accessible toilet is located on the ground floor of the McManus museum next to the circular staircase. As you enter the toilet you’ll notice the outer wall is slightly curved due to the shape of the building. this didn’t affect the manoeuvrability as I was still able to turn my powered wheelchair without difficulty.
There were wall-mounted grab bars on each side of the toilet plus a pull-down grab bar on the right-hand side. The sink also had grab bars fixed on both sides and a mixer tap with a long lever for easy access.
The toilet has space to park a wheelchair alongside for a lateral transfer. We just moved the bin to allow me to position my wheelchair in that space.
It was great to see the emergency cord hanging freely to the floor and a full length mirror which is often rare to find in accessible toilets.
There was a range of free to use sanitary products above the toilet which is also something that isn’t often available in accessible toilets.
An accessible toilet can also be found in the Creative Learning Studio.
Additional Visitor Information
How to get to the McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee?
The central location of The McManus Museum makes it easy to access via different modes of transport such as bus and train. Visit the travel information for details.
Address: McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum, Albert Square, Meadowside Dundee DD1 1DA Scotland
How much does it cost to visit the McManus Art Gallery & Museum?
Free admission to The McManus Museum.
The McManus Art Gallery & Museum opening times?
Monday to Saturday: 10am to 5pm
Sunday: 12.30pm to 4.30pm
The McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee is a great wheelchair accessible museum in the heart of the city. The building is stunning both outside and inside. Even if you aren’t into architecture, I’m certain you will be impressed.
There is wheelchair access throughout the museum galleries, an accessible toilet and blue badge parking bays at the rear of the museum.
The cafe is lovely with vegan options available. The staff were also very friendly and welcoming. We had a great day out in Dundee visiting the McManus Museum and would recommend you visit the next time you are in Dundee.