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The McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee | A Wheelchair Accessible Guide

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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.

Emma outside the main entrance of The McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee
Emma outside the main entrance of The McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee

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.

Emma posing next to Oor Wullie statue outside The McManus, Dundee
Emma posing next to Oor Wullie statue outside The McManus, Dundee

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.

Emma sat in her powered wheelchair at the rear of her wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV). Her WAV is parked in a blue badge parking bay at the McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee.
Blue badge parking bays located at the rear of the museum
Emma sat in her powered wheelchair at the rear of her wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV). Her WAV is parked in a blue badge parking bay at the McManus Art Gallery & Museum Dundee.

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.

A photo of Emma sat in her wheelchair approaching the entrance of the McManus Museum.

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.

Emma sat in her wheelchair inside the McManus Museum in the reception area. The ceiling has gothic arches.

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.

Emma sat in her wheelchair in the middle of a bust of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. They are all wearing face masks.
A bust of Queen Victoria wearing a yellow and black face mask.

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.

The McManus Museum Cafe. There are white round tables with green chairs and stained glass windows.

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.

A baked potato with chilli and cheese filling and a side salad on a plate.

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.

Emma sat in her wheelchair browsing the galleries in the McManus Museum.
Emma sat in her wheelchair browsing the galleries in the McManus Museum.

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.

Wm Low supermarket items on display at McManus Museum.

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.

Emma sitting next to the Beano display in the McManus Museum Dundee.

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.

Emma and Allan taking a mirror selfie inside the lift. They are both wearing face masks.
Emma sitting in front of a white wall with black and white photographs displayed.

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.

A black and white photograph of a young boy in a child's pushchair

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.”

Emma sat in the The Dundee and the World gallery is set in the stunning Albert Hall
The Dundee and the World gallery is set in the stunning Albert Hall
Emma looking at a large display cabinet of ships in the Dundee and the World gallery

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.

Emma sat next to a large statue of Oor Wullie inside the McManus Museum. Emma is wearing a face mask.

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.

Emma sat in her wheelchair inside The Victoria Gallery at The McManus
Emma sat in her wheelchair inside The Victoria Gallery at The McManus

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.

Oil on canvas 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.

The Street at The McManus exhibition showing old shop fronts.
Emma sat in her wheelchair at an old bar in the museum. Emma is looking at the camera and smiling.
“What can I get you?”

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.

Additional access:

  • 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.
Emma sat in her powered wheelchair looking at paintings hung on the wall at the McManus Museum.
Emma sat in her powered wheelchair looking at stained glass windows at the McManus Museum.

Accessible toilet

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.

Disabled toilet at McManus Museum

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.

Wheelchair accessible toilet at McManus Museum

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

Emma sat outside infront of the The McManus Museum. The building is Gothic in style.

Final Thoughts

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.

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Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

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