History museum

Abu Dhabi’s Natural History Museum inspired by Mecanoo’s geology takes shape on Saadiyat Island

Mecanoo, the Dutch company that recently wowed New Yorkers with its $200 million transformation of the Mid-Manhattan Library (alongside Beyer Blinder Belle), is now ready to wow future museum-goers in Abu Dhabi with his conception of the future natural history museum of the emirate Abu Dhabi. Although the new 377,000 square foot destination has been officially unveiled by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi), construction of the project is already underway at a waterfront site in the Saadiyat Cultural District. , related to the island. The new museum is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

Prepared to showcase some of the “rarest wonders of natural history ever discovered” while offering visitors the opportunity to “travel on a 13.8 billion year journey through time and space”, the Abu Dhabi’s natural history museum will be flanked by at least one international neighbor that supports tourism when it opens: Jean Nouvel’s domed Louvre Abu Dhabi, which debuted in 2017. Others Ongoing—or, in some cases, currently stalled—institutions planned for the Saadiyat Cultural District include the Zayed National Museum, the Abrahamic Family House of Adjaye Associates, the Abu Dhabi by Zaha Hadid Architects, the Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando and, last but not least, the beleaguered Guggenheim Abu Dhabi by Frank Gehry, which as of last year is also set to be completed in 2025 alongside the new Abu Dhabi museum. ‘natural History.

View of the cultural district of Saadiyat, including the Abu Dhabi Museum of Natural History by Mecanoo and the completed and unfinished museums of Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry in the distance. (Mecanoo/Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Natural History Museum)

As for the new natural history museum in the starchitecture-packed district, Mecanoo envisioned a sprawling complex that will rise up along the shore of Saadiyat Island like a colossal rock formation, “reflecting the museum’s purpose to enhance understanding and engagement with the natural world”. by the company headquartered in Delft. “Each element of the design uses geometry as the main theme, with pentagonal shapes resembling cellular structures.” Water and vegetation – “powerful symbols of life in the desert” – are also key elements of Mecanoo’s geological design for the granite-white edifice covered in splashes of greenery.

In addition to a myriad of galleries featuring immersive exhibits that showcase the museum’s formidable treasure trove of natural wonders, the complex is expected to include temporary exhibition space, a theater, classrooms and special event venues. . Joining the museum’s public facilities will also be a scientific research center dedicated to zoology, paleontology, marine biology, molecular research and earth sciences.

entrance to a rock-like museum
Softened by trees and lush vegetation, the heavy outcropping structure is inspired by natural geological formations. (Mecanoo/Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Natural History Museum)

A crowd-drawing highlight presented by DCT Abu Dhabi will be “Stan” (aka BHI 3033), a 39-foot-long tyrannosaurus rex discovered in South Dakota in 1987 which ranks as one of the best preserved and studied in the world T. rex fossils. In addition to the 67 million year old predator, another major draw will be the Murchison meteorite which crashed in Australia in late 1969. While the scope of the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi will be global in nature, it will feature also “the story of life on Earth through an Arabian lens, where the local natural assets of the region’s fauna, flora and geological history will be part of the visitor’s journey.” This, according to DCT Abu Dhabi, is a first for a natural history museum.

“Natural history has a new home in Abu Dhabi,” DCT Abu Dhabi Chairman HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak said in a statement. “A new museum that tells the story of our universe through some of the most incredible natural wonders known to mankind. These are awesome gifts of nature that we are proud to share with the world – unlocking millions of years of knowledge to not only advance scientific discovery, but also to inspire our children to protect the future of our planet.