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Memories from 25 Years of DCA

We asked our staff and audience to share their early memories of DCA. Here's what they said...

It’s our birthday! DCA first opened to the public 25 years ago this March, and some of our team have been with us from the very beginning

There are eight DCA staff members who have worked here for more than 20 years, working in teams across the building from Facilities to Print Studio to Learning. Jute Café Bar also has long-serving staff, including chef Chris who has worked at Jute since it first opened.

To mark DCA’s 25th birthday, we asked these staff members and our audience to share some of their favourite early memories of DCA – here’s what they said: 


Wed 13 Mar

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Shelves with pots of different coloured inks

Print Studio Learning Coordinator Scott Hudson took us back to the 2000s, sharing his first introduction to DCA:

I remember first joining DCA Print Studio as a Registered User in 2001 – at first, I felt so nervous about what to expect. Once the nerves settled, I started to think “hmm, I might quite like to work here”. Within a few months, that was exactly what I was doing – and 23 years later, I’m still happy to be part of DCA.

Paintings hang on the wall during our Spring Holiday Pop-Up

DCA’s Head of Learning, Sarah Derrick, reminisced about 25 years of Learning:

The Learning team has taken part in so many great projects and partnerships over the years – it’s difficult to choose between them! One that does stand out is the “Redesigning Dundee Waterfront” architecture project that we worked with Blackness Primary School on in April 2000. 

This was at the very beginning of the thirty-year project to develop Dundee’s waterfront, so the view from DCA was quite different than it is today with a lovely view of the river. We loved the energy of the P5 pupils. The children used print and collage skills to create a mural with their concepts for the waterfront on our windows, which allowed them to visualise their ideas. These included huge water flumes, a big wheel, and a zip wire!  We even sent some of their ideas on to Dundee City Council for inspiration. Sadly we don't have any photos from the project because we didn't have phone cameras way back then. 

You can see some thank you letters written by pupils who took part in the project below. Do you recognise any of them?

Drawing with three squares. One square has a drawing of a boy, the  other has a hill and sun, and the third is a leaf.
Drawing of a paint brush, a palette and a glue stick.
A thank you letter that reads - Dear Art Centre, Thank you for letting us come to the art Centre. We enjoyed it very much. I think it was magnificent and we hope that you enjoyed us.
A thank you note written by a primary school pupil. Text - Thank you for inviting us to come to the DCA. It was dead fun and we all hope to come again. I enjoyed the printing and cutting. We had fun re-developing the landscape of the waterfront.
A drawing of a plane, stars and a planet.
A drawing of the sea with a bridge and a boat on it.
From Elizabeth Ogilvie's exhibition at DCA. The lighting in the gallery is very low. There is a large screen with an abstract image of a white wave on it.

Learning Coordinator Jude Gove took a look back at our Exhibitions Archive:

It’s always exciting when new exhibition opens at DCA, from Opening Night through to exploring the gallery and experiencing a new body of work. For me, one of our most striking exhibitions was Elizabeth Ogilvie’s Bodies of Water, which was in DCA Galleries from December 2005 to February 2006.  

Ogilvie used a mixture of music, video, light and water to simulate the ocean, and the results were impressive. I remember two large pools in the middle of the gallery, which looked so deep in the low light of the gallery. It was a fantastic transformation!

Cinema audience smiling at a Q and A

Over to you

We also asked our audience on social media what their favourite early highlights from DCA were. We got some lovely responses – here they are:

My first ever film at DCA was a schools screening of Howl’s Moving Castle what feels like many moons ago!

Gorgeous weather in July 1999 celebrating my graduation day at DCA.

Battle Royale – the first film I saw there.

DCA highlights? Easy – It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.

Thank you all for taking a trip down memory lane with us.  The birthday celebrations continue with our programme of 25th anniversary events, including our Editions exhibition 25 Years in Print, some of the best films of 1999 – with special ticket prices for DCA Members - and screenings for wee ones. Find out more below…