Abu Dhabi Museums
From the Louvre to the Guggenheim
The Abu Dhabi museums you’ll hear the most about are those in the complex of five museums planned for Saadiyat Island, but as of writing this (October 2012) the project has been put on hold. The project has been so widely promoted that there are even museums about the museum!
What is planned is to transform the 27km2 Saadiyat Island into a cultural Mecca holding the largest concentration of cultural assets in the world. Planned for the location are the Zayed National Museum; the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (to be the largest in the world); Louvre Abu Dhabi; Performing Arts Center and the Maritime Museum.
The museums are scheduled to be completed by 2018 at a total cost of about $27USD million. The Louvre is scheduled to be complete sometime in 2012. This island will become the centerpiece of Abu Dhabi galleries.
So far the visitor’s center Manarat Al Saadiyat has been partly opened in two galleries but in the future 4 galleries, a performance space, theatre, and restaurant are planned.
At the moment you can see here The Saadiyat Storytelling you about the coming attractions of Saadiyat Island and Arts Abu Dhabi Gallery with rotating exhibitions and educational programs.
More Abu Dhabi Museums and Exhibitions
Emirates Palace Museums
Another museum about the museum is in the Emirate Palace, the Cultural District Exhibition traces the plans to build this long awaited museum island complex.
Entrance to the museum is free.
Also in the Emirate Palace Gallery, One run by the Tourism Development and Investment Company presents a number of exhibitions which are accompanied by workshops and cultural events. The exhibitions have included Islamic Art; Picasso Abu Dhabi and A Story of Islamic Embroidery in Nomadic and Urban Traditions.
Al Ain Museums
Al Ain National Museum
This museum traces the heritage and history of the United Arab Emirate culture through archeology, ethnography, and gifts.
When you visit you can get a good overview of the traditions and way of live in this region and how it has changed over the years. See Bedouin jewelry, weapons, household items, tools, instruments and even a traditional majlis.
The artifacts in the archeology section date back to the Stone Age and continue into the Islamic period. In the gift section, you can see gifts which Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan was given. There are precious objects made of gold and silver and some unusual gifts like the gold plated palm tree.
The museum presents its displays through photography, art and objects representative of the historic periods. The museum is open from 08:30-19:30 every day except Friday when it opens from 15:00-19:30, and on Mondays the museum is closed.
Admission is AED 3 (AED1 for kids).
The museum is located opposite the Eastern Fort (the Sultan Bin Zayed Fort Compound) which itself is a part of this nation’s heritage as it dates back to 1910. This is a great Abu Dhabi museum to visit on a day trip to Al Ain.
Al Ain Palace Museum
The ruling family of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan has donated many possessions to this museum which is located in their former home. The Palace which was constructed in 1910 was where much of the political running of the country was conducted. The museum is also known as Qasr Al Ain Museum and is open 08:30-19:30 Saturday to Thursday and 15:00-19:30 on Fridays but closed on Mondays.
Al Ain University Natural History Museum
Learn here about the countries natural surroundings, the plants, earth, rocks, animals, and birds. There is a herbarium section as well as minerals and fossils. The museum is not large but contains factual information and interesting specimens of the indigenous flora and fauna.
The museum is located in Abu Dhabi’s oldest building the White Fort or Old Fort which was built in 1793 and was home to the ruling Al Nahyan family. The structure has the original 1800’s fort as well as an additional part added in the 1930’s. The Qasr Al Hosn Cultural Quarter is fascinating and worth exploring located on Sheik Zayed First Street.
The Heritage Village is not really a traditional Abu Dhabi museum but it is a living tribute where the country’s history, traditions, customs, and culture are shown in the reenactment of the way people used to live and work in the UAE.
Khalifa Park Museum
Learn about Abu Dhabi and its history going back to the prehistoric era. Travel back in time on the “Time Tunnel” ride and experience the sights and sounds of Abu Dhabi through the ages.
See the artwork from ancient civilizations in the East, Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Included in the exhibition are items from China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. There are a wide variety of artifacts on display including statues, jewelry, and ceramics.
Ghaf Art Gallery
Focusing on encouraging young local artists the gallery is a contemporary and daring departure from conventional art. Here you will find unusual and varied genres of modern art in regularly rotated temporary exhibitions.
Located close to the Khalidiyah gardens, Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, Al Khalidiyah. The gallery is open from 10am-9pm daily and is closed on Fridays.
Emirates National Auto Museum
This is a private collection of automobiles belonging to the “Rainbow Sheikh”. The collection includes Mercedes (one in every color), caravans, pick-up trucks and many unusual models. The museum is close to Liwa Oasis. This is great Abu Dhabi museum showing the opulence of the leaders!
Hemisphere Design Studio & Gallery
If you want to see some independent original local artwork then visit this gallery which prides itself on displaying the work of local artists.
Found in the Souk of Qaryat Al Beri here you can also purchase the photographic artwork that is on display.
Enjoy these fabulous Abu Dhabi museums and galleries! Before you know it Abu Dhabi will be a cultural hub of the Gulf!