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Fast-tracking collection: Dubai changes the museum model

Saudi artist Moath Alofi's work The Last Tashahhud, courtesy of A.R.M Holding.

The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and Art Dubai will debut their new Dubai Collection, its first institutional art collection. However, the method with which the gallery displays and collects its art is unprecedented at such a scale-- the entire gallery will be borrowed.

Dubai's art culture is rich and colorful, but with a middle man of mandates, the process from acquisition to display can be lengthy, expiring the appeal of artwork for the fluctuating tastes of patrons.

Collection display information, courtesy of A.R.M Holding.

National art collections and museums, longstanding insitutions originating in Europe, primarily purchase or receive gifted works. In certain ways, the process is prolonged by permanently obtaining works. Storing and curating pieces for display and evaluating changing art markets are several factors that delay development of exhibitions. "Creating a national collection is often a lengthy process of navigating an ever-changing art market and diplomatic negotiations with stakeholders ... but through our loan-based model we expect to be able to develop several exhibition concepts in the first few years within launching the initiative," explains Muna Al Gurg, chair of Dubai Collection's curatorial committee.

The features of the Dubai Collection's model rely on its loaned works from many Arab artists, curated to best represent the art culture of the region. With 87 works selected thus far, the collection aims to maintain revolving exhibitions, or temporary displays. Dynamic displays, can be an "inspiring" way to showcase a collection, adds Al Gurg.

Digital pamphlet loan information, courtesy of A.R.M Holding.

In addition to a physical museum, Al Gurg says the Dubai Collection will include a digital gallery with educational features in hopes of expanding artistic reach internationally. "One of the problems is the visibility of the Middle Eastern art world to people outside the Middle East."

Dubai's art scene is overwhelmingly contemporary, vibrant, and rapidly growing. The collection is limitless, highlighting the cultural roots of its native country while still adapting to trends in the greater art scene. By maintaining both in-person and digital displays, accessibility of art is increased tenfold. With these collections comprised entirely of borrowed works, the antiquated system of permanent exhibitions may eventually be retired. A more direct connection to artists behind the scenes may positively impact the collections seen by thousands. "Looking further ahead, we hope to further grow the Dubai Collection with the aim of highlighting even more artists and stories."

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