[STANDFIRST] A world class-museum is icing on the cake for this Scottish city's cultural evolution, says Sarah Marshall.

Paintings, sculptures, lithographs, yes. But I never imagined I'd be gazing at a dish drainer in an art exhibition. Hanging on a wall in V&A Dundee's Scottish Design Galleries, the Lakeland Clam Shell kitchen sink rack looks comfortably at home in a room where Hunter wellies and a Holly Fulton gown are displayed alongside 16th century tapestries and neoclassical laburnum-wood chairs.

The collection is a spirited celebration of Scotland's - and specifically Dundee's - design roots, and an explanation for why the V&A chose this east-coast city as a location for their first museum outside London, which recently opened to critical acclaim.

It's also part of a bigger regeneration story, boosting both the economy and confidence of a working-class community, emerging from industrial decline and steadily finding its feet.

When Japanese architect Kengo Kuma started work on V&A Dundee, which juts over the River Tay like the prow of a boat, he wanted to create a space that wouldn't just appeal to art lovers. It had to be a place where people would want to spend time. Inside, glass panels frame rippling water, and a sense of wide, open space feels wonderfully free.

"My colleagues showed me a picture of the cliffs of north-eastern Scotland," says Kuma, who found inspiration for his angular building in the fierce and defiant coastline. "It's as if the earth and water had a long conversation and finally created this stunning shape."

The museum is reason enough to visit for a weekend, but this Unesco City of Design has much more to offer besides. Former jute and linen mills are being converted into hotels and breweries, accomplished street art is breathing new life into decaying wynds (alleys) and a sense of possibility is palpable.

Most importantly, there's a feeling art and design can be fun. This is, after all, the city responsible for Dennis The Menace and The Bash Street Kids, the subject of university lectures given by the world's only Professor of Comics. Not forgetting computer games like Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto, which both started life here.

After decades of waiting in the wings, it's time for Dundee to shine on a world stage. And the city and its people have never been more ready.

Relive past glories at... RRS Discovery, Discovery Point

Fuelled by the whaling and jute trades, Dundee established a strong wooden shipbuilding tradition from the 17th to the early 20th century, and one of the city's greatest seafaring contributions is now permanently dry-docked alongside the V&A. The UK's first purpose-built research vessel, The Discovery carried both Scott and Shackleton on their 1901 voyage to Antarctica. See the cabins where they slept and marvel at a storeroom where 800 gallons of rum was largely left untouched. Tickets, £11.25. Visit rrsdiscovery.com.

Taste the sea at... Tailend, 81 Nethergate

Scottish seafood is in a class of its own, and this casual restaurant at the top of Dundee's main high street serves a respectable selection at very appealing prices. Most is sourced from the coastline around the Shetlands and delivered daily. A far cry from the standard artery-clogging parcels wrapped in greasy paper, their battered haddock and chips (from £7.95) is crisp and crunchy. Visit thetailend.co.uk.

Admire the architecture at... The McManus, Albert Square

Collections of fine art and natural history are showcased in this museum and gallery, although the building itself demands attention. Designed by Gilbert Scott, who was also responsible for London's St Pancras train station, it revels in Gothic splendour. Arched stairways wrap around the facade with its curved turrets, while inside, ribbed vaults craft the ceiling. Visit before October 21 to see an exhibition celebrating 80 years of The Beano. Entry free. Visit mcmanus.co.uk.

Learn about beer at... 71 Brewing

Twenty-five years ago, Duncan Alexander left Dundee, but returned to set up his beer brewing business in a former ironworks on the outskirts of town. The region's mineral-packed water, similar to that used in Czech Pilsner, was a particular draw. Tours (£12) run on weekends, with an opportunity for tasting sessions, and several beers are also served at the V&A from taps made with recycled barley hops. Visit 71brewing.com.

Snooze in historical surroundings at... Hotel Indigo, Lower Dens Mill

Celebrating Dundee's industrial past and creative present, this hipster-friendly hotel is a stylish reinvention of a former linen mill. Although part of a chain, it has plenty of character; video games consoles and copies of The Beano decorate the lobby, and Scottish classics such as Arbroath smokies and tattie scones appear on the breakfast menu. It's a 10-minute walk from the centre of town, but easy to locate thanks to its Italianate bell tower. Rooms from £89. Visit ihg.com.

Grab a sneaky drink at... Draffens Speakeasy Cocktail Bar, Couttie's Wynd

Along a cobbled wynd filled with bins, an unmarked fire door leads to this prohibition era-themed speakeasy, which occupies one of Dundee's much-loved - and now defunct - department stores. Mannequins in vintage attire lead patrons to a basement, where the sound of swing jazz and cocktail shakers rings long into the night. Cocktails around £8.

How to get there

For more information on the V&A Dundee and Dundee, visit vam.ac.uk/dundee, dundee.com and visitscotland.com.

Logan Air operate flights from London Stansted to Dundee. Visit loganair.co.uk