Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre
مركز الشيخ عبدالله السالم الثقافي
|Established||March 14, 2018|
|Location||Kuwait City, Kuwait|
The Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre (Arabic: مركز الشيخ عبدالله السالم الثقافي) is a cultural complex located in Kuwait City, Kuwait owned by the Amiri Diwan. It consists of six main components; The Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Space Museum, Arabic Islamic Science Museum, Fine Arts Centre and the external spaces known as the Public Realm. The Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre is a 18-hectare site making it the world’s largest museum complex
The museum is named after the late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah who was the 11th ruler of Kuwait, the first Amir and the founder of modern Kuwait.
The Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre creates a new world class museum district within Kuwait. Together with the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre, the cultural centre is part of the new Kuwait National Cultural District.
The vision of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the project was administered by the Amiri Diwan who appointed Kuwaiti Architects SSH to design and engineer the building envelopes and components, which are seamlessly connected through glazed wings and a sweeping canopy acting as the central spine of the cultural centre.
Alghanim International, a highly regarded local main contractor, were appointed as the builders, tasked with constructing the museum envelopes and undertaking the extensive sitewide landscaping. London-based Cultural Innovations developed the visitor experience design.
Whilst designed to meet the Kuwaiti educational curriculum, the project was intended not only to exceed the expectations of local visitors but also to welcome and inspire an international audience. Exhibits at the Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre cover the entire spectrum of history, science, space and culture, making the project a truly world-class destination.
The project forms the major part of Kuwait’s new national cultural district. The district is a celebration of the scientific and cultural achievements of mankind, and the scale and shapes of the buildings are designed to convey a sense of wonder and awe. With a combination of internal and external exhibitory, sensory displays and lighting, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre is accessible to visitors day and night.
This remarkable project has some impressive statistics to match; not least the incredible team assembled to develop, produce, deliver and install the entire project. An unprecedented number of specialists from all over the world working day and night were required to successfully deliver this one-off project. Although many international specialists were drafted in, the project had a distinctly British feel due to the appointed exhibition fit-out contractor and construction manager, BECK.
During the prefabrication and installation, every exhibit and component had to be inspected, and approved for accuracy, in line with the tender drawings and specification. This huge task was the responsibility of UK based DesignPM, who were appointed by SSH for their unique specialist knowledge of the museum sector.
Natural History Museum
Making up eight of the galleries across the complex, the Natural History Museum (NHM) covers themes including Prehistoric Life, Ecosystems, The Earth and Environment, Biodiversity, Nature, and Arabian Wildlife and Geography. Each individual museum has its own iconic elements which required multiple specialist teams to be carefully coordinated.
Within the NHM galleries is a South East Asian rain forest with a combination of living trees and plants interspersed with faux, overlooking a 1.4 million liter aquarium stocked with live species. The 6m x 6m concave end retaining panel together with the side viewing panels weigh over 65 tons providing a full underwater panorama of the aquarium.
The Prehistoric Life gallery includes over 30 full size prehistoric creatures both skeletal and full bodied; All fabricated to a highly realistic level of detail, supported by leading paleontologists and National Geographic.
Each museum has a glass clad wing protruding from the end, allowing visitors a glimpse of the exhibits in the evening from the external Public Realm areas. The Prehistoric Life wing includes an impressive 17 meter-long prehistoric whale suspended above four striking displays of giant beasts from the distant past.
The ten diverse galleries that make up the Science Museum take the visitor on a remarkable journey through Transport, Experiments, the Human Mind and Body, Robotics, Natural Defenses and Innovation. One of the highlights is the 20 seat 4D dark ride experience suspended from the mezzanine floor which takes visitors on an adventure inside the human body. The 3D projection accompanied by motion base technology is one of the must-see elements of this museum.
The Transport gallery houses over 200 historical and contemporary vehicles from full scale planes, boats and cars suspended from the roof structure, to full size replicas of the Bluebird and Bloodhound speed record vehicles and the Red Bull Stratos capsule. The technical installation methodology, coordination and structural challenges were significant within this gallery.
At the introduction to the Robotics gallery, visitors are met by a 3 meter-tall animatronic host robot who explains the interactive journey they are about to embark upon. Fully immersive and interactive galleries such as Experiment and Innovate also provided some of the most complex interactivity.
These hands-on experiences needed to meet international standards, meet the school curriculum and in some instances meet culturally sensitive requirements. Prototyped, developed, rigorously tested and installed in just 12 months, each museum, and each gallery had its own stringent development deadline program challenges to overcome.
The Space Museum with four galleries and a 110-seat planetarium creates a futuristic museum exploring topics from the Big Bang to space travel, and our place in the solar system. At the centre, the planetarium was designed and built as part of the exhibition fit-out including the structural development and engineering for it to traverse the ground and mezzanine floors.
Amongst the various space vehicles, communication devices, satellites, space telescopes and planets suspended within the gallery, sits a fully replicated recreation of the International Space Station (ISS) which engulfs the entire gallery. At over 50 meters-long, the ISS creates its own gallery on the mezzanine floor where visitors can gain a sense of living in space. Back on the ground, visitors are invited to drive the Mars Rover and explore the solar system and hidden galaxies.
For younger visitors, the Space Academy gallery provides children with the opportunity to experience first-hand some of the exciting training exercises and tasks carried out by astronauts.
The Space Museum explores both the historic achievements of the various space agencies around the world and provides a thought provoking glimpse of what the future may hold. Invaluable support from the European Space Agency and others made the project research and development for the Space Museum accurate and efficient.
Arabic Islamic Science Museum
This museum is dedicated to the influences of Arabic scholars and inventors over history, and explores how and why Islamic civilization, and particularly the arts and sciences, flourished through the 8th to the 14th century. The space is more traditional and evokes contemplation.
Suspended above a map of the Middle East region hang five scale models of some of the most iconic mosques across the world highlighting their unique architecture. Visitors can get a close-up view of some of the world’s most ornate and influential mosques and see their intricate detail.
Visitors can explore the wonders of Arabic influences on today’s modern world, key inventions such as the camera obscura and Al-Jazari clocks can be discovered in the interactive library and multi touch displays allow the visitor to identify key inventions, how they have developed and still play a part in today’s society.
First hand accounts of influential inventors, scholars and explorers such as Abbas Ibn Firnas and Ibn Battuta, their trade routes, explorations and legacies are followed within the museum. Mixed media is used to engage all visitors leaving them with a sense of pride and ambition.
For younger visitors, classrooms, design and interactive spaces allow them to design buildings, retrace historic trading routes and try their hand at trading in local markets.
- "Project Profile: Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, Kuwait City". Museum ID. July 4, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- "Kuwait National Cultural District Museums Director" (PDF). 28 August 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2017.
- "Kuwait National Cultural District".
- "Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre". 28 August 2017.
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