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Ramin Salsali, founder of the Salsali Private Museum in Al Quoz, Dubai, in his office at the museum, which opens tonight. The painting he is holding is Papi, by his son Douglas, 10.
JEFF TOPPING STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Ramin Salsali, founder of the Salsali Private Museum in Al Quoz, Dubai, in his office at the museum, which opens tonight. The painting he is holding is Papi, by his son Douglas, 10.
The largest of the exhibition rooms in the Salsali Private Museum. Jeff Topping / The National
The largest of the exhibition rooms in the Salsali Private Museum. Jeff Topping / The National

Salsali Private Museum opens with exhibition of five pieces

Ramin Salsali's cherished dream of an "art museum" aimed at collectors is finally coming true.

Five works that have never been seen by the public anywhere will go on show tonight as a new private museum dedicated to contemporary art opens its doors.

The Salsali Private Museum at Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz, is the brainchild of the Iranian collector Ramin Salsali and its opening will be the realisation of a long-term dream to create such a space.

The pieces are part of the museum's inaugural exhibition, Show Off. All the works featured belong to Salsali, although future shows will also include pieces from other collections and displays by visiting institutions.

None of the pieces is for sale, setting the museum apart from Dubai's many commercial galleries. Mr Salsali describes the project as the first centre in the world for collectors, and hopes it will encourage others to share the work they own with the public.

"Collectors can come here and we will give them a free-of-charge service," he said. "We'll advise them, put them in touch with the galleries and the artists and give them our expertise.

"We'll give them as much information as possible if they want to open a museum. We'll show them how the layout should be and which type of lighting and air-conditioning they should choose."

Salsali has arranged the pictures and installations in the exhibition himself rather than bringing in an outside specialist.

"I didn't want to have a curator and I didn't want to have a catalogue," he added. "I wanted to keep it as simple as possible in order to show other collectors, who may be afraid to do the same, how easy it is to do it.

"This is the beauty of a private museum, you don't have to explain yourself to anyone, you should enjoy the art that you have as if you are at home."

The works being unveiled for the first time tonight include a photograph by Max Scheler of the former shah of Iran and his third wife Farah Diba gazing at their official portraits. The others are Divided Landscapeof a Blue Monarchy and The Tree of Life, both by Reza Derakshani, an untitled piece by Amir Hossein Zanjani and A Door to Heaven and Hell by Philip Muller.

Also in the opening show, which will run until March, is work by Jonathan Meese, Amartey Golding, Farzan Sadjadi, Andre Butzer, Ahmad Amin Nazar, Ramin Haerizadeh and Sara Rahbar.

A wall on the museum's upper floor will be dedicated to work by young people. Some of the pieces shown here will come from Salsali's collection, though others will be submitted by aspiring artists who need somewhere to display their creations.

Salsali was born in Tehran and, after attending school in the UK and Iran, studied economics and management in Germany. He became a consultant in the petrochemical industry, and began collecting art while still in his 20s. He now owns 500 artworks, half of them by Iranian artists, and divides his time between Dubai and Germany.

The Art Dubai fair director Antonia Carver described the project as an "outstanding initiative".

"Ramin's museum seems to be all about sharing - him sharing his collection with a local and international audience, and sharing the museum as a venue with other collectors, artists and initiatives - and so adding a much-needed public venue for contemporary art to Dubai. Here's hoping other patrons follow this fantastic example."

Tonight's opening may not be the last such event hosted by Salsali, as he is working on plans to set up a sister museum in Berlin to show Middle Eastern art in Europe.

"My dream is not yet finished," he said.

The Salsali art museum is at Al Serkal Avenue, Street 8, Unit 14, Al Quoz 1; www.salsalipm.com. 4 380 9600 Hours are Saturday to Thursday, from 10am to 7pm; closed Fridays.

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