UNDER blue skies, and with light shimmering from the silvery Tay, the £80.11m V&A Dundee could not have had a finer day to open its doors.

Yesterday, hundreds of the world's press were given a chance to look around Scotland's first, new, and eye-catching museum of design - its dramatic angles inspired by the cliffs of north-east Scotland - and also ask a key question: if it is built, will people come?

The museum, with a permanent Scottish Design Gallery featuring a Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece from Glasgow's collections, and an opulent first paid-for exhibition featuring the history of ocean liners, will open its doors to the public on Saturday.

The organisers of the museum, a highly modern addition to the banks of the Tay designed by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, are hoping 500,000 people visit in its first year, and after that, around 350,000 visitors a year.

READ MORE: Inside the V&A Dundee

This would put it on a par with the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, or the People's Palace in Glasgow, according to figures from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

Philip Long, the director of the V&A Dundee, said he is confident that the museum can consistently attract visitors from both Dundee and further afield.

V&A Dundee, with an annual budget of £4.5m, will stage large-scale exhibitions with the V&A in London, and may also originate its own shows: but it will not acquire its own objects.

Mr Long said: "We have taken a prudent business planning sense with our figures.

"Of course its very hard to predict what they will be. For Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, we have estimated 50,000 people will come."

READ MORE: Director of the V&A Dundee on designing the future

He added: "What is very clear to us, is that this is a project that needs to work locally, it needs to work nationally, and we want to bring an international audience.

"Within a sixty to ninety minute drive there are 750,000 people, and if you go beyond that, then it quickly goes over 1m people.

"There is a particular asset that we have, is our relationship with the V&A in London: that means we can continue to bring great exhibitions, it is not a static visitor attraction, it is a place which has a live programme."

The cost of the building, which rose dramatically from an initial £45m, was paid for by the Scottish Government, the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland, Dundee City Council and a £15m private fundraising campaign, which is now complete.

The Scottish Government is heavily invested in the museum: it provided £38m towards the museum, plus £361,000 in 2018-19 to support its first year.

Kuma said he hopes that the museum, which partially overhangs the river Tay, is winged with two balconies and set in shallow pools, will be a "new living room for the city".

The interior is an impressive space floored by dark limestone and lined with hundreds of wooden slats, a light-filled bowl which expands in size and space as you move from the ground floor to the first.

READ MORE: Philip Long on the V&A Dundee

A large work of art, with ceramic pieces resembling enormous daubs of paint, adorns one wall on the first floor, a work by the Glasgow-based artist and former Turner prize nominee Ciara Phillips.

The city council are estimating Dundee will benefit from an economic boost of £11.6m a year due to the museum.

John Alexander, the leader of Dundee City Council, said that the city had already experienced a boost of overnight hotel stays of 9.8% due to the museum.

Kuma added: "The big idea for V&A Dundee was bringing together nature and architecture, to create a new living room for the city. "I’m truly in love with the Scottish landscape and nature.

"I was inspired by the cliffs of north-eastern Scotland – it’s as if the earth and water had a long conversation and finally created this stunning shape."

The building is two in one, a complex mass which includes a tunnel through its centre, through which visitors can view the Tay or, from the Tay, the centre of the city.

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This view, Mr Long said, was his favourite, as it re-connects the city with the river, and brings back memories of the Royal Arch, or Victoria Arch, which once stood on the docks but was demolished in 1964.

He also said he was particularly proud that the Oak Room, designed by Mackintosh, was at the centre of its Design Galleries.

Kuma also said: "I have greatly admired Mackintosh's designs since I was a student.

"In the Oak Room, people will feel his sensibility and respect for nature, and hopefully connect it with our design for V&A Dundee.

"I hope the museum can change the city and become its centre of gravity."

The Oak Room has been restored, conserved and reconstructed in a project involving V&A Dundee, Glasgow Museums and Dundee City Council - it has not been seen by the public for more than 50 years.

Councillor Alexander said that the V&A Dundee had put a "fire in the belly" of Dundonians.

However, he said: "It is not the case that we are going to swing open the doors, and wash our hands and say 'job done'.

"This is an ongoing relationship [between the city and the museum] which we will continue to build.

"We will continue to work at that, and take culture to people, as well as taking people to culture."

He added: "I think and I hope the visitor figure expectations are on the money."

Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, said: “This cultural milestone for the city of Dundee is also a landmark moment in V&A history – we’re extremely proud to share in this exceptional partnership, the first of its kind in the UK, and to have helped establish a new international centre for design that celebrates Scotland’s cultural heritage.”