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A massive new museum will soon grace the capital

The Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi is coming…

Saadiyat Cultural District will soon host a new museum and scientific research centre, showcasing natural history spanning 13.8 billion years and covering an area of over 35,000 square metres, making it the largest of its kind in the region. Entitled the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, the project was officially launched by HH Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office.

Not only will it present some of the rarest natural history specimens ever found, but it will also include a thought-provoking perspective into a sustainable future for planet Earth, thereby inspiring and empowering younger generations to protect the planet through curiosity and discovery. A highlight of the collection will be the world-famous ‘Stan’, a remarkable, mostly complete 11.7-metre 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 our knowledge of countless aspects of T. rex.

‘Stan’ will be joined by an extraordinary Murchison Meteorite specimen, which famously crash-landed in Australia more than 40 years ago and has since revealed new information about the early solar system. Containing a huge range of organic ‘stardust’ compounds as well as pre-solar grains that formed over seven 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, as well as fascinating experiences being created by a dedicated team in Abu Dhabi, supported by strategic partnerships with world leading scholars and natural history experts.

Conceived and developed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, 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, aiming to ignite a life-long passion for the natural world in visitors of all ages. According to HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, nurturing awareness of how we are impacting the planet has never been more important. “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,” he said.

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, with local natural assets of fauna, flora and the geological history of the region set to be part of the visitor journey. It will join a global community of natural history museums committed to public education and 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 (aDNA and proteomics), and earth sciences. The primary aim will be to both advance knowledge and increase understanding of our past, as well as create a think tank for future innovation and emerging technologies.

Lead architecture firm Mecanoo has designed the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi to resonate with natural rock formations, reflecting the museum’s goal of improving understanding of and engagement with the natural world. 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 commenced on the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi construction site.

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. It will join the diverse cultural institutions and museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District, which include Louvre Abu Dhabi and 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. The Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi is currently under construction and due to be completed at the end of 2025.

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Samia Qaiyum
A textbook third culture kid with a perpetual thirst for adventure, Samia Qaiyum specialises in travel and culture, having lived in five countries and travelled to 34 others – just don't ask her to define the word 'home'.

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