Talk series on Zayed National Museum launched

Monthly event will spread awareness about the themes and identity of the museum till it gets built.

By Silvia Radan/staff Reporter

Published: Mon 9 Feb 2015, 12:03 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:31 PM

Abu Dhabi — A new series of talks about the Zayed National Museum (ZNM) was launched last week at Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, meant to stir public’s interest in the museum.

The talks are taking place once a month, until May, in various locations across Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and they will focus on the themes that the ZNM is based on.

“The Multaqa Zayed National Museum are not just talks, but debates as well about the museum’s identity,” said Amal Ahmed bin Daiban, a ZNM researcher.

“They are an opportunity for the public to contribute with feedback and ideas about the themes and content of the museum,” she told Khaleej Times.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA), organiser of the talk series, hopes that these “multaqa” will help promote the museum, especially among UAE nationals.

“We need more Emiratis to know what we are doing and to encourage their dialogue,” mentioned Daiban.

The talk series will continue after the summer months, and again next year, until the museum is ready to open.

Behind closed doors, people involved in the development of the museum say construction is far behind, but officially, the completion date still stands — about two years from now. It already has been postponed from 2013 to the end of 2016.

If all goes to plan, the ZNM will be the second museum to open on Saadiyat Island, after Louvre Abu Dhabi at the end of this year and before Guggenheim, in 2017.

So far, the 35,000-square-metre site has been prepared for the main construction.

Designed by renowned British architects Foster and Partners, the ZNM architecture is inspired by the wings and feathers of a falcon, reflecting the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan’s love for falconry, which is also a major part of Emirati heritage and a national symbol.

There will be five steel feathers, the tallest of which being 125 metres high, housing different galleries. The entire building is surrounded by water and set within raised landscaped gardens.

Inside, there will be seven different galleries, each displaying exhibits on a different theme: the life and times of Shaikh Zayed, falconry and biodiversity conservation, people and heritage, land and water, history and society, science and learning, and faith and Islam.

“The museum will tell the story of the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, the history of the region and the cultural connections of the Emirates with the rest of the world,” explained Bin Daiban.

Although most of the exhibits will focus on the emirate’s modern history, there will be a section going back some 2,000 years ago, based on the archaeological findings of those times.

Since the London’s British Museum is a consultant partner of the Zayed National Museum, not only their experts have a big say in the curatorial process of the ZNM’s content, but they also collect artefacts and relevant exhibits based in the UK — and they don’t come in short supply!

It is believed that British Petroleum has one of the largest collections of photographs from the pre-oil era of Abu Dhabi.

Apart from the permanent galleries, the ZNM will also have a research library which will include various material on UAE history and Shaikh Zayed’s collection of books.

“A living embodiment of Emirati identity, Zayed National Museum, a national museum designed to tell the story of the UAE, will provide a location for UAE nationals to share with the rest of the world, a symbol of a proud heritage and a space that tells the story of leadership, strong will and creative development,” said Shaikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the TCA, describing Abu Dhabi’s future national museum.

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