Brand new exhibition on how we’re Tackling TB

We’re are thrilled to announce the opening of our inspiring new exhibition, ‘Tackling TB: Dundee Scientists Fighting the Killer Cough’, produced in collaboration with Dundee Heritage Trust. The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday 7th October and will be on display until 1st April 2024 in the High Mill in Verdant Works.

Through interactive displays, activities, museum objects and videos, the new family-friendly exhibition explores the past, present and future of tuberculosis (TB). Learn about one of the deadliest infections the world has ever known; explore how it affected the mill workers of 19th century Dundee, how it still affects over ten million people world-wide today and, virtually meet the Dundee scientists researching a better treatment.

This is the first time that Dundee Heritage Trust have collaborated with the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research at the University of Dundee. The exhibition brings together work from Dundee Heritage Trust, WCAIR and the Drug Discovery Unit and has been supported by organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GSK, Evotec and more.

An opening night celebration is being hosted at Verdant Works on Friday 6th October, and invites the public from 7pm to be among the first to view the new exhibition, take part in exciting hands-on activities, enjoy local music, and taste the best of Scotland with refreshments from Royal Mile Whiskies and more. Tickets must be pre-booked via Dundee Heritage Trust Eventbrite.

Sophie Hinde, Interpretation Curator at Dundee Heritage Trust says; ‘This has been a wonderful exhibition to put together. Our research volunteers delved into our collection and the local archives researching the illnesses that affected Dundee mill workers. We then got the chance to visit the labs at WCAIR to meet the scientists finding better cures for TB today.’

The ties between Dundee’s past and TB are deep rooted, with a history of outbreaks amongst the dozens of thousands of workers in the city’s mills in the 19th century; to a city-wide screening campaign in the 1950s; to the pioneering medicines being researched in labs here in Dundee today, at the Drug Discovery Unit.

As the exhibition describes, TB spreads rapidly in areas of overcrowding, making crowded tenements throughout Dundee during the height of jute manufacture (between 1851 and 1881, the city’s population nearly doubled) a hotbed. It is no surprise then, that in 1887, Scotland became the first country in the world to begin a nationwide campaign to tackle the disease. In consequent years, the BCG vaccine and screening programmes were introduced. Despite its scarcity in modern day Scotland, globally 10 million fall ill with the disease every year. Scientists in Dundee at the Drug Discovery Unit and in labs across the world work tirelessly to research better treatments for this deadly disease.

Thus, the atmospheric High Mill at Verdant Works becomes the perfect location for this inspiring exhibition; with echoes of its historic connections intertwined with its proximity to groundbreaking research labs at the University of Dundee’s School of Life Sciences.

Dr Laura Cleghorn, TB Portfolio Manager at the Drug Discovery Unit, said “When I talk to people about my research, they are surprised that I work on TB because they think of it as a disease of yesteryear as it is not something that is prevalent in the UK. TB is still a major global issue, someone dies from it every 20 seconds, there is an urgent need to develop new and improved TB treatments, ideally with a shortened treatment time.”

Alongside the exhibition, Dundee Heritage Trust are issuing an open call for memories of the BCG vaccine programme in Dundee. If you have a story to share about receiving the BCG vaccine as a youngster in Dundee, please contact the Dundee Heritage Trust team.

You can find out more about the exhibition on our dedicated page.

Exhibition is included in admission fee at Verdant Works, which comes as an annual pass; allowing unlimited repeat visits to the attraction for 12 months from the date of purchase. Kids under 16 go free at Verdant Works, when accompanied by a paying adult.