Not long to go before the capital brings the past to life…

A recent announcement by the cultural collaboration of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and Miral, has put the construction of the upcoming Natural History Museum at 25 per cent completion.

The project was only announced this year so the fact that we’re a quarter of the way through is an exciting prospect indeed, and means the estimated the delivery date of 2025, is right on track.

Making history

You’ll find Natural History Museums in culturally-considerate cities across the world. They tend to deal, as the name suggests, in the history of the earth — with engaging exhibits charting biological and geological evolution. The Yin to Dubai’s recently opened Museum of the Future’s Yang. Natural History Museums often feature full-skeletal reconstructions of long-extinct creatures, such as the London museum’s famous ‘Dippy’ (the Diplodocus).

The Abu Dhabi incarnation will be located on Saadiyat Island as part of the cultural district, a network of world class museums, galleries and sites of cultural significance.

We Stan

We also know a little bit about some of the flagship exhibits, thanks to a cheeky pop-up preview held at Manarat Al Saadiyat in April and May earlier in the year. Chief amongst them are, a seven billion (fact check: That age pre-dates our sun) year-old space rock — the Murchison object.

It joins Stan, a mostly complete 39-foot-long, Dhs117 million, 67 million year old Tyrannosaurus-Rex skeleton — a fossilised relic of the notorious Late Cretaceous apex predator. And you might think placing a dinosaur next to an object similar to the one that allegedly wiped them all out ‘is a little close to the bone’. But they have had 66 million years to get over it.

Talking about the important milestone, Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral, said: “Through our partnership with DCT Abu Dhabi, we have been able to make strong progress on the development of this iconic cultural landmark. The Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi will provide visitors with an enriching cultural experience to help position Saadiyat as the destination of choice and Abu Dhabi as a centre for culture, arts, and creativity.

It also supports achieving Saadiyat Vision 2025, which aims to grow domestic, regional, and global visitor numbers, supporting the development of Abu Dhabi’s tourism ecosystem.”

Other museums OTW in Abu Dhabi

teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi

Set for completion in 2024, Phenomena is a collaborative effort between DCT Abu Dhabi, Miral and teamLab — and the result, as you can see from the renders, looks set to be an engineering masterpiece. The architectural marvel represented by the building is more than skin deep. The futuristic looking space will stretch across a 17,000 sqm gallery area and is billed to become the ‘home of infinite curiosity’. But what does that actually mean? It’s a pretty cool concept, the collections within will be curated around a theme of ‘environmental phenomena’ and ‘offering new perspectives on the world’. The true genius here though is that the exhibits will be shaped by the changing environment, and like their organic inspiration, grow and evolve mimicing the subject matter. Each piece will be designed to respond to its specific local environment within the teamLab Phenomena building, and the interactions it encounters. This constantly changing virtual world means that every visit, by every guest will yield a different experience.

Zayed National Museum

Once completed, the Zayed National Museum will represent nothing less than an architectural marvel, a fitting home for the inspiring story of our nation and its visionary founder. Located on Saadiyat Island, already the seat of so much cultural import, the breathtaking structure designed by Foster + Partners will include a 123-metre-high tower. The main gallery will be devoted to a collection of artifacts illuminating aspects of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan — the man, and his leadership journey the country’s unification, and beyond. There will also be gallery space devoted to exhibitions on Falconry and Conservation; Land and Water; History and Society; Science and Learning; Faith and Islam; and it will host the grand Sheikh Zayed Library. Although we don’t have a projected completion date, work on the building began back in 2019.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Image courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP.

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On track for completion in 2025, the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Museum will add a jagged smear of swoon to the Saadiyat Cultural District skyline. True to the spirit of Guggenheim (and conceived in collaboration with Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation), the plans for the building — cut a contemporary, unconventional, but singularly beautiful design. As outside, so within. Inside you’ll find 28 galleries across a 11,600 sqm expanse, there’s also an additional 23,000 sqm of exhibition spaces contained within the distinctive cones and terraces attached to the building. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will exhibit a collection of modern and contemporary art with a special focus on pieces from the West Asia, North Africa, and South Asia (WANASA) region. The museum has been tasked with providing a platform for artists from the WANASA area, commissioning works from artists at the spear’s tip of creative innovation, and illuminating how “the interconnected histories and cultures” have helped shape our world. Speaking about the project, H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi said: “The museum will also play a civic role through its mission to spark wider interest in global modern and contemporary art, fostering diversity and inclusion in a meaningful cultural exchange. As we move forward with our plans, it is crucial to recognise the impact of this museum in realising our vision for the Emirate’s culture and creative industries.”

Abrahamic Family House

Situated on Saadiyat Island, the Abrahamic Family House is a mega project with an incredibly inspiring message. Inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity, supervised by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, and ‘followed closely by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam’ — the Abrahamic Family House will comprise a mosque, a church, and a synagogue within the same space.  The building was designed by architect Sir David Adjaye, to capture ‘the values shared between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam’. The endeavour was first announced back in 2019, by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, but this latest update has given us the names of the worship centres. Within Abrahamic Family House you will find Imam Al-Tayeb Mosque, St. Francis Church, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue. The aim is that this project will symbolise and inspire tolerance, togetherness, fraternity, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.

Even more to Louvre

Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences

Louvre Abu Dhabi represents the cultural epicentre of the emirate, but after a truly astounding piece of news announced by local master developers, Aldar — it might soon represent the epicentre of your living room too. Once complete, the Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences by Aldar will be a residential complex of 400 apartments, with an iconic address, stunning ocean views and next-door-neighbour-status to one of the world’s most impressive collections of art and historical artefacts. Included within the structure will be Le Salon Détente — a lounge for residents that will feature art curated in consultation with the experts at Louvre Abu Dhabi; a 12-seater Cinema Privé for private theatre experience; a wellness centre – Spa Bien-être which will of course feature a gym, sauna rooms, spaces for yoga and meditation; and there will also be an indoor kids’ playroom,  called, appropriately, the Creativité Room. It’s all part of Saadiyat Grove, a 242,000 square metre, Dhs10 billion development which will also include retail and entertainment attractions, other residential properties, two news hotels and co-working spaces.

Images: Provided