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Dramatic Etihad Museum opens in Dubai to celebrate the UAE's formation

A new museum dedicated to the founding fathers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) opened in Dubai on Saturday (7 January).

Located on the waterfront of the emirate, the wavy design of the Etihad (Union) Museum is inspired by the shape of a manuscript, with its seven tapering columns emulating the seven pens used to sign the 1971 Union agreement that created the UAE.

The project design team, led by Moriyama & Teshima Architects, have placed much of the 26,000sq m (280,000sq ft) museum underground, including theatres, event spaces, archival facilities, eight permanent galleries and one temporary space for travelling exhibitions.

Lightwells of varying shapes and sizes illuminate the underground spaces, which in turn lead to the below-ground rooms of the circular Union House – the location of the historic signing ceremony – and a re-created Guest House, representing the place where the leaders of the seven member emirates resided during negotiations.

Above ground, a curving entrance pavilion rests lightly upon a reflecting pool and plaza, providing a view towards the exterior of Union House and a 123m (403.5ft) high golden pole bearing the UAE flag.

The museum’s educational exhibits and programmes show the chronological events that led to the foundation of the UAE and the drafting of the nation’s constitution from the perspective of its leaders. Historically-important objects from 1968 to 1974, interactive videos and a holographic film are among the exhibits, while visitors can also visit the museum’s library, which has a collection of 3,000 books on the UAE’s national and social history.

An inauguration ceremony, attended by many of the UAE’s current rulers, was held on 2 December 2016 to coincide with the UAE’s 45th National Day.

Saeed Al Nabouda, acting director general of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: “This landmark heritage initiative is an important manifestation of the vision to create an important national UAE cultural and tourist landmark,” and claimed the museum “will enhance visitor understanding of the rights, privileges and responsibilities bestowed upon the nation’s citizens through the UAE constitution.”

The Etihad Museum was commissioned as part of the Dubai Plan 2021 – which aims to consolidate the emirate’s position “as a home for creative individuals who are proud of their cultural identity.”

The keystone of the plan is the Dubai Expo, which will be held in 2020. The international event, themed Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, will last six months and is expected to attract 25 million visitors, 70 per cent of whom will travel from overseas. Architecture studios such as Foster + Partners and Bjarke Ingels Group are designing pavilions for the event.

Dubai  UAE  Etihad Museum  Moriyama & Teshima Architects  architecture  design 
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A new museum dedicated to the founding fathers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) opened in Dubai on Saturday (7 January). Located on the waterfront of the emirate, the wavy design of the Etihad (Union) Museum is inspired by the shape of a manuscript, with its seven tapering columns emulating the seven pens used to sign the 1971 Union agreement that created the UAE. The project design team, led by
CLD,VAT,HAM,ARC,DES,DEV
The museum's curving entrance pavilion rests lightly upon a reflecting pool and plaza / Dubai Media Office
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