x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Mesopotamian splendour on Saadiyat Island

First major collaboration between the British Museum and Zayed National Museum yields Splendours of Mosopotamia exhibition at Saadiyat Island.

A carved statue of King Ashurnasirpal II, dating from 883-859BC, forms part of the Splendours of Mesopotamia exhibition which opened yesterday at the Manarat al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island.
A carved statue of King Ashurnasirpal II, dating from 883-859BC, forms part of the Splendours of Mesopotamia exhibition which opened yesterday at the Manarat al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island.

ABU DHABI //The Zayed National Museum's partnership with the British Museum has yielded its first tangible results with the opening of the Splendours of Mesopotamia exhibition on Saadiyat Island today.

The collaboration with the British Museum includes pieces from its Middle East collection and a selection from the Al Ain National Museum on display at the Manarat al Saadiyat.

It is the first of three exhibitions co-organised by the British Museum in the run-up to the opening of the Zayed National Museum in late 2014, part of the Saadiyat Island cultural district that will include branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre art galleries. The next two exhibitions, opening in 2012 and 2013, will focus on the Egyptian view of the afterlife and on understanding cultures of the world through objects.

"We're working together with our colleagues in the UAE on how to present the narrative of the natural museum," said Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum.

"Part of that is tying the achievement of the history and making of the UAE into the long history of the region."

Mr MacGregor said exhibitions aimed to lay the groundwork for an exploration of the region's history, a theme that would continue when the 66,000square-metre Zayed National Museum opened.

"Zayed National Museum is a project with a real historic significance, because it will tell a very important story, which is the long history of the region and its cultural connections with the world," said Rita Aoun Abdo, the director of the cultural department at the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), which oversees the island's development.

The new museum, designed by the architect Norman Foster, will honour the life and achievements of Sheikh Zayed and celebrate the rich history of the UAE.

The British Museum signed on as a consulting partner in 2009, and advises on design, construction, education and curation.

jthomas@thenational.ae