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19 May 2014 The Minister of Culture Hails HRH Premier’ Call to Launch a New Museum of Contemporary Art in Bahrain
The Minister of Culture Hails HRH Premier’ Call to Launch a New Museum of Contemporary Art in Bahrain

H.E Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture, lauded the directives of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa in the last cabinet meeting on 18 May 2014 to build the Modern Art Museum in Muharraq. Marking the International Museum Day, HRH the Premier tasked the Culture Ministry to coordinate with relevant parties in this regard, stressing the need to revive the role of museums in highlighting civilisations and maintaining the human identity.

Taking the opportunity, H.E Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture, expressed her profound gratitude and sincere thanks to H.R.H, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa, Prime Minister, for his constant interest in the fine arts movement in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Indeed, the Premier lauded the pivotal role played by the Culture Minister in preserving the kingdom’s rich historical and cultural heritage and promoting it globally. H.E Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa, said “ This constant support for art and culture bestows on us a huge responsibility to reflect HRH’ vision of a transparent artistic scene reaching to the world”. H.E added that the Annual Fine Arts Exhibition at Bahrain National Museum, reflected His Highness's strong support for arts and keenness to discover new talents and achievements made in Fine Arts, locally and from the Arab world and His Highness's continuous encouragement for creative fine arts since the beginning of this exhibition 38 years ago.

H.E Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa expressed her gratitude and appreciation to HRH the Prime Minister for his kind gesture which reflects keenness to promote the role of art as a means of communication. She added that the Modern Art Museum, with its unique architectural design, will represent a new national achievement showcasing the human heritage and civilisation. Worth to mention that H.E Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa has transformed Bahrain's Ministry of Culture into something resembling a beehive. The ministry has not taken a rest or vacation for the past year. Cultural and artistic activities are ongoing, even during the summer. When reviewing the ministry's annual agenda, you see many diverse activities that display its openness to the Arab world and international cultures. The minister, who came to her post from the field of research and science, has turned Manama into a permanent cultural capital that serves as a bridge between Bahrain and the Gulf, as well as between Bahrain and the Arab world and the West.

H.E Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa argued that the Contemporary Art Museum Bahrain’s design is In a position of transit, where the two faces of the Bahraini culture communicate with each other, the project aims to combine traditional Arabic architectural elements with contemporary and experimental spatial sensations to enhance the dialogue with the art of our time. As an ever-changing event space the Museum strives to become a gateway for the art and culture of Bahrain, strongly rooted in history and optimistically looking into the future. H.E the Minister of Culture had earlier said that “Bahrain is distinguished by its early visual arts movement, compared to other countries of the region. The majority of wealthy Arab countries have spent huge sums of money to acquire international art work, while neglecting Arab artists. In Bahrain, when we thought about establishing a modern art museum, we relied on our local art scene. I am proud of the experience of Bahraini artists, and I believe it is best to take pride in the rich art we have, for the interest of our cultural presence. I am personally working to acquire the works of Arab artists, and I hope to see a modern Arab art museum in an Arab country. And I'm trying to prepare for such a museum in Bahrain”.

The first planned specialized art museum in Bahrain’s design seeks to create a visually arresting landmark that belongs inextricably to both the specific site and the overall urban situation. The Museum is located in a border condition between the dense and vibrant traditional urban context of Al Muharraq and the calm open view of the ocean and its sandy beach. At the same time, the project is located in between the two faces of the Bahraini culture, with its tradition and historical background on the one side, and the rapidly growing, contemporary city on the other. Located on land that has been reclaimed from the sea, the museum’s position allows for visual relations to Manama, as the site is facing the modern high-rises of Bahrain’s new capital across the water.

The enigmatic volume emerges from a narrow coastal land stripe at the Gulf of Bahrain. Describing a gentle curve while gradually rising from the ground a volume is formed that bends slightly and reaches over the water towards Manama. The building appears mystically floating above a coastal landscape. Public fields flow around the sculptural mass of the museum, underlining its presence with curvy- linear lines echoing the contours of the volume. The overall dynamism and fluidity of the elongated form support
the emphasis on movement through and around the museum. Forming a welcoming and inviting gesture, the main volume lifts up towards the main entrance in the north. The cantilevering volume forms a canopy and generates an open but shaded public zone at grade. This spatial configuration provides a natural separation of the gallery spaces from the more public, event and entertainment related parts of the museum. The lifted volume contains the three main programmatic units which are articulated as capsules within the compact overall envelope. These internal volumes are expressed through folds and protrusions in the modulation of the envelope, creating multiple ways of reading the building as a whole that is constituted by its integral parts. Embedded in the general building concept of the museum are qualities deriving from the traditional Islamic architecture found in close context to the site at the original houses of Al Muharraq. While the building unfolds a wealth of varied spatial sequences that supports the different aspects of a museum, it relates to the sophisticated traditional ways to control the strong daylight by use of geometric patterns and ornamentation.


Participation in the 43rd Fine Arts Exhibition Bahrain Map