Abu Dhabi’s Natural History Museum is set to be another family-friendly space where visitors of all ages can expand their knowledge, this time in the natural world. Slated to open in 2025, the museum, the first of its kind in the Gulf region, will bring some of the world’s rarest natural specimens from billions of years ago to the emirate. Spanning over 35,000 square metres, the museum is also the largest of its kind in the region and is located in the Saadiyat Cultural District, already home to international cultural centres like Louvre Abu Dhabi and Manarat Al Saadiyat Gallery.
Conceived and developed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) in partnership with Miral, the museum promises to take visitors on a remarkable 13.8 billion-year journey through time and space. While inspiring younger generations to look after the planet, Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi also aims to look at thought-provoking future scenarios and provide answers to challenges.
A highlight of the new museum’s collection will be the globally-renowned fossilised Tyrannosaurus rex named Stan, one of the best preserved and most complete dinosaur skeletons that stands at 11.7 metres-long. While at the museum, the 67-million-year-old dinosaur will be made available for scientific research and will continue to help in education and research around the world. Stan, named after Stan Sacrison, the fossil hunter who made the initial discovery of bone fragments, will be joined by a Murchison meteorite specimen. The specimen from the rare type of meteorite famously crash-landed in Australia over 40 years ago. It has a massive range of organic stardust compounds as well as pre-solar grains that formed over 7 billion years ago, providing lots of insight for researchers.
As well as global natural history, Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi will showcase the history of life on Earth through an Arabian focus. Local fauna, flora and the geological history of the region will be on display. The museum’s collection will also feature various important artefacts. And in addition to the gallery display areas, the museum will include temporary exhibition spaces for special events and theatre facilities. Fascinating experiences, supported by strategic partnerships with world-leading scholars and natural history experts, are also included in the mix.
Set to attract thousands of tourists to Abu Dhabi, the Natural History Museum will host a world-class scientific research centre. The hub will conduct studies in the fields of zoology, entomology, paleontology, marine biology, molecular research and earth sciences. In addition to being a scientific research and teaching institution, the museum will be an educational resource for learning about the evolution of our planet. Whether it’s understanding the past or innovations to do with the future, it’s all about enhancing and developing knowledge.
Mecanoo is serving as the lead architects of the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi project. The Dutch firm founded by Francine Houben is known for its eye-catching and engaging spaces such as the national TU Delft Library. The firm’s portfolio is also brimming with international feats, for example it was involved in renovating the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC.
The leading company has designed the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi to “resonate with natural rock formations,” reflecting the museum’s target of boosting engagement and understanding of the natural world. Water and greenery, strong symbols of desert life, are also said to be vital features when it comes to the façade. Design images show greenery-topped, organic-like buildings that complement the rocky shores of Saadiyat. Geometry pervades as a principal theme, with pentagonal shapes that are similar to cellular structures.
Saadiyat Cultural District, located on the picturesque, natural Saadiyat Island, is establishing itself as one of the world’s leading cultural centres. It will soon be rich with more museums and places of learning and wonder. Visitors will soon have the chance to explore modern art at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and visit Zayed National Museum to get an insight into the life and times of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. A place of peace and coexistence, The Abrahamic Family House, which will feature three religious spaces, is another exciting addition to look forward to.