Museums in
Arabia 2017

Museums in Arabia 2017
11-13 October
Hosted and Supported by Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities


Dr. Sarina Wakefield, Adjunct Faculty, College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, Zayed University, UAE


Prof. Dr. Laila Prager, University of Hamburg (Germany); currently Senior Research Fellow at New York University Abu Dhabi, UAE


Museums in Arabia is an established international interdisciplinary conference series that operates as an international collaborative network for exploring the theory and practice of museums and heritage in the Arabian Peninsula. Established in 2011 the conference series has developed successful events at different host institutions, including the British Museum in 2012 as a special session at the Arabian Seminar and at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, in partnership with UCL Qatar in 2014. The conference provides a platform for local, regional and international scholars and practitioners to come together to discuss and exchange ideas around museum and heritage practices in the Gulf.

 The 2017 iteration of the Museums in Arabia series aims to engage more specifically with how artistic and aesthetic practices and productions (in the broadest sense) are employed within museums, galleries, heritage events, and urban planning in the Arabian Peninsula. The 2017 iteration is hosted by the Bahrain National Museum, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain and generously supported by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.

 The conference addresses three key themes: representation and identity, artistic practice, and space and place. 

 The Representation and identity theme connects with questions of: how artistic expression is defined in the Gulf? What ‘forms’ of artistic expression are produced (in the past and the present) and by whom? How are different identities represented and reproduced through artistic practice in the cultural sector in the region and how these relate to the museums and heritage landscape in general? And, who has the power to represent and re-produce identity through artistic expression?

 The Artistic Practice theme explores: how artistic practices are employed within museums in the region? How these practices relate to the production of museum aesthetics both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the museum? How artistic practice is used in the production of new museums, architecture, and in the heritage field and who is involved in creating those expressions? Where is art produced and by whom? And, how artistic practice is used to represent local, regional and international identity?

 The Space and Place theme examines: how artistic practices are employed in the production of space and place? How is cultural production implicated in the development of new buildings, districts and cities? And, how are heritage buildings re-created and re-used as spaces of artistic and creative enterprise in contemporary Gulf societies?

 By exploring the relationship(s) between artistic practices and productions in museums, galleries and heritage institutions this conference seeks to broaden the conversation around the significance of this area for societal and economical changes, trans-(nationalism), subjectivities, etc. and to identify future avenues for related research. Additionally, Museums in Arabia provides a unique opportunity to foster multidisciplinary dialogue (between scholars, practitioners, and interested persons) around the theory and practice of museum, gallery and heritage activities in the region.

Museums in Arabia 2017 Interactive Map