A famous dinosaur fossil will be on display from April 6 at a new exhibition on Manarat Al Saadiyat, providing a glimpse of what the planned Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi will offer Image Credit: Screengrab

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi will get a natural history museum that will take visitors on a 13.8-billion-year journey through time and space.

The Abu Dhabi Natural History Museum, set to be completed by the end of 2025, will be located in Saadiyat Island, at the Saadiyat Cultural District, and also shed light on ensuring a sustainable future for the planet.

Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, launched the museum on Wednesday. The Abu Dhabi Media Office said the facility will be the largest of its kind in the region.

Dinosaur fossil

A highlight of the new museum’s collection will be the world-famous ‘Stan’, a mostly complete 39-foot-long (11.7m) tyrannosaurus rex, which is one of the best preserved and most studied fossils of this iconic predator from the Late Cretaceous Period. Known by scientists around the world, years of scientific studies of ‘Stan’ have furthered the knowledge of countless aspects of the predatory dinosaur. The 67-million-year-old dinosaur fossil will be made available for scientific research, and will continue to contribute to education and research globally.

Meteorite specimen

An extraordinary Murchison Meteorite specimen that crash-landed in Australia more than 40 years ago will also be part of the collection. Over the years, the specimen has revealed to scientists new information about the early solar system. Containing a huge range of organic ‘stardust’ compounds, as well as pre-solar grains which formed over 7 billion years ago – long before our current solar system existed – the meteorite provides ancient insight into the very building blocks of life.

The museum’s collection will also feature numerous significant artefacts as part of its curatorial vision. There will also be experiences created by a dedicated team in Abu Dhabi, supported by partnerships with scholars and natural history experts.

Place of discovery

Conceived and developed by the emirate’s culture sector regulator, the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), in partnership with destination and facilities creator Miral, the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi will be a scientific research and teaching institution and an educational resource for learning about the evolving story of our planet.

“Natural history has a new home in Abu Dhabi. A new museum which tells the story of our universe through some of the most incredible natural wonders known to mankind. These are awe-inspiring gifts from nature that we are proud to share with the world – unlocking millions of years of knowledge to not only advance scientific discovery but to inspire our children to protect our planet’s future. As we nurture a new generation of global advocates that are incredibly curious and passionate about natural history, we are fulfilling our vision to enrich lives and make Abu Dhabi the place for research, collaboration and discovery,” said Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi.

The museum will join the diverse cultural institutions and museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District - Louvre Abu Dhabi, the upcoming Zayed National Museum, and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, as part of Abu Dhabi’s strategy to position the emirate as a centre for culture, arts and creativity.

Past and future

With a focus on immersive displays, curated collections with exceptional specimens, and innovative, interactive mediations, the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi galleries will take visitors on a journey back to the very beginning of time, narrating the evolution of the universe, the Earth’s formation, and the history of life on the planet. It will also provide a glimpse into the possible future.

In addition to global natural history, the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi will present the history of life on Earth through an Arabian lens for the first time, where local natural assets of fauna, flora and the geological history of the region will be part of the visitor journey.

Inspiring research

It will join a global community of natural history museums committed to public education and to the development and sharing of scientific research. Within the museum, the innovative scientific research facility will undertake studies in areas including zoology, palaeontology, marine biology, molecular research (DNA and proteomics), and earth sciences. The primary aim will be to advance knowledge and increase understanding of the past, but also to create a think tank for future innovation and emerging technologies.

The facility will span 35,000 square kilometres, and will be designed by lead architects Mecanoo. The design resonates with natural rock formations, and every element of the design uses geometry as an overriding theme, with pentagonal shapes resembling cellular structures. Also playing an important role in the design are water and vegetation, potent symbols of life in the desert. In addition to the gallery display areas, the museum will include temporary exhibition spaces for special events and theatre facilities. Enabling and marine works have already commenced on the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi construction site.

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Employment opportunities

The Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi will offer employment opportunities in the emirate and on the wider national and regional levels, with curators set to be appointed to cover the full spectrum of natural sciences. In addition, it aims to attract and develop young talent as part of Abu Dhabi’s drive to accelerate the culture and creative industries.