Abu Dhabi: While Abu Dhabi may still be preparing to welcome its three prestigious new museums, residents are already getting a taste of how a more diverse cultural landscape can benefit them.
A series of regular workshops and interactive exhibits have been offering both children and adults a glimpse of the upcoming museum culture, while also providing a slew of educational opportunities.
The activities are organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), and officials say that interest in them has been growing rapidly among people of all age groups.
“The notion that art does not appeal to residents in the capital is completely misplaced. With each exhibition, we have gained bigger audiences and we noticed that the general public is always hungry for more,” Sharifa Bin Horaiz, manager of art content development at the TCA Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News.
“At the same time, we are working to create even more curiosity through our educational programmes,” she added.
Three museums — the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi — are set to open their doors on Saadiyat Island from 2015 onwards. While the Zayed National Museum will chronicle the life and achievements of the UAE’s founding father, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the other two institutions will feature artwork and displays from around the world.
In the build-up to the museum openings, a number of art festivals and exhibitions, such as the Emirati Expressions exhibition that highlights photography by young Emirati artists, have captivated residents, and each features related workshops by the TCA Abu Dhabi to engage the public.
Sharifa said that since January 2013, a total of 200 workshops have been conducted on photography, clay sculpting, drawing and pottery. Each session includes only a nominal fee of Dh50 to cover the cost of the materials and media used.
“We want visitors to connect with the artwork that they encounter,” Sharifa said.
Depending on the age group a particular workshop caters to, activities are organised.
“If we held a workshop on coinage, we would get children to work with clay and explain to them the functionality of the coins on display, while adults could fashion metal coins,” Sharifa explained.
The ongoing History of the World in 100 Objects exhibition that was launched in April and includes objects to demonstrate the progress of mankind over two million years has seen nearly 4,000 individuals participate in activity-based tours and workshops so far.
And to ensure a continued appreciation of the arts, the TCA Abu Dhabi has been focusing much of its efforts on children.
“Children from public and private schools and universities make trips to nearly every exhibition we organise, and are able to attend related sessions that help them understand the art form on display. For example, a 2012 show on photography included activities to help children develop digital photography skills and learn about solar prints,” Sharifa explained.
During term time, an average of 60 children attend the various shows each morning as part of organised school tours.
“Each exhibition can be a learning opportunity about the objects or art movements, and this is the education we are trying to provide,” the TCA Abu Dhabi official said.