Visitors at the recently opened Etihad Museum will find the Dubai waterfront to have been completely transformed; it is now home to the nation’s newest and most sensational landmark, which is proudly managed by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).
The iconic museum building is situated at the very place where the UAE was founded in 1971 and was designed by Moriyama and Teshima Architects, a Canadian firm which has a background of collaborating with visionary partners to build inspiring and enduring spaces that transform communities and reinforce civic identity. Every element of the new design reflects the purpose of the museum, which is to enrich the public’s understanding of the Union Agreement and tell the story of the birth of the UAE.
The 25,000-square meter landmark is home to a magnificent pavilion, featuring undulating curves that are inspired by the shape of the unification manuscript, and seven tapering columns that symbolise the pens used by the Nation’s Founding Fathers to sign the Union Agreement. It overlooks a tranquil reflecting pool and a sweeping plaza, which seamlessly flows up to the pavilion and guides visitors to its terraced viewing platforms.
Much of the museum is housed underground, including permanent and temporary galleries, an auditorium, event spaces, and a Dubai Public Library branch. Light wells illuminate the expansive subterranean spaces, which lead to the circular Union House – the location of the signing ceremony – and the Guest House where the leaders of the seven member emirates met during negotiations.
To capture the conditions in which the Union Agreement was signed and give visitors a glimpse back in time, the landscaping surrounding the museum harks back to the original 1971 shoreline of Jumeirah Beach and the historical Union House and Guest House buildings on the museum site have also been restored to their original state. The flag which flies from the flagpole outside Union House is the very one which the Founding Fathers gathered beneath following the formation of the UAE. It stands in the museum grounds as an eternal symbol of unity and the colours of the UAE flag can also be found throughout the museum.
All of these design elements imbue the museum with layers of national meaning and symbols, offering a visual representation of UAE history that reinforces the museum’s unique identity and celebrates its rich display of the nation’s heritage and culture.
The Etihad Museum will host a number of initiatives under the Dubai Art Season umbrella – the citywide initiative which runs from March to April 2017 under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. These include design talks that form part of the Design Days Dubai programme, and the Art Bus, which will stop at the Etihad Museum for the first time this year.
Dubai Art Season is a definitive initiative that aims to highlight the city’s global credentials on the arts scene, bringing together artists from around the world for an unmatched celebration of talent, creativity, innovation and cultural diversity.