x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Sheikh Nahyan inaugurates Abu Dhabi’s newest art galleries

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development was the first across the thresholds of the Etihad Modern Art Gallery and the Etihad Antique Gallery, which display part of the largest collections of Islamic and antique art in the region.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, at the inauguration of the Etihad Modern Art Gallery and the Etihad Antique Gallery. Charles Crowell for The National
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, at the inauguration of the Etihad Modern Art Gallery and the Etihad Antique Gallery. Charles Crowell for The National

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak opened Abu Dhabi’s two newest art galleries at once on Tuesday night.

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development was the first across the thresholds of the Etihad Modern Art Gallery and the Etihad Antique Gallery, which display part of the largest collections of Islamic and antique art in the region.

The two converted villas in Al Bateen are filled from top to bottom with priceless pieces of art.

Qurans from 8th century Kashmir and Moroccan prayer books from the 17th and 19th centuries fill glass cabinets, flanked by Ottoman calligraphic panels intricately hand-painted with gold leaf.

There is also a collection of exquisitely preserved swords from the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods, and a large selection of other arms and armour.

In the second villa, European and Oriental paintings jostle for space on walls and treasures from across the ages are nestled in every corner.

The founder and part owner of the collection, Khaled Al Mutawa, said his main ambition with these galleries was to present something different to the community.

“I don’t want to be a normal gallery,” Mr Al Mutawa said.

“We will have regular exhibitions and promote modern and contemporary art, but we are also placing a strong emphasis on the extremely important items from our deeply rooted history.

“In Abu Dhabi we do not have a very old civilisation but we appreciate art, and this is part of our responsibility to preserve and display it.”

aseaman@thenational.ae