Museums play an essential position in enhancing one’s understanding of historical past, however usually they appeal to solely the cultural elite. The Louvre Abu Dhabi needs to transcend that barrier. Its imaginative and prescient is to turn into a international platform that brings collectively folks from completely different international locations, cultures, religions, throughout varied age teams and from all walks of life. “Our vision is that any visitor should be able find a bit of their home in it,” says Saif Saeed Ghobash, undersecretary on the division of tradition and tourism in Abu Dhabi.
In a current dialog with Knowledge@Wharton in his workplace in Abu Dhabi, Ghobash spoke concerning the altering position of museums within the 21st century and why they should have a ‘cool’ quotient in the event that they need to appeal to younger folks.
An edited transcript of the dialog follows.
Knowledge@Wharton: The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in November 2017. What has the response been up to now? Has it met your expectations?
Saif Saeed Ghobash:The first yr was wonderful by way of suggestions and efficiency. We managed to draw greater than a million guests. Of these, two-thirds have been worldwide guests. That is a testomony to the museum’s international message. The museum has lived as much as its promise. It promised variety; it promised attain; it promised to talk to everybody from all walks of life. It has managed to ship on that daily.
Knowledge@Wharton: This museum is uncommon within the sense that it represents collaboration between the governments of the UAE and France. How does it differ from museums in different elements of the world? Is the Louvre in Abu Dhabi completely different from the Louvre in Paris?
Ghobash: This museum has a very distinctive narrative, not like another, wherever on this planet — Universality. You can see that as you stroll by the galleries. We are in a position to evaluate and distinction and draw similarities between varied cultures, traditions, religions, and all walks of life. That is what makes it distinctive.
The Louvre Paris is a formidable [museum] and one of the best accomplice we may have. But we’re an unbiased museum, not a department of the Louvre, Paris. The inter-governmental settlement that was drawn up between the UAE and France stipulated that 13 taking part museums which have shaped the Agency of French Museums would help us in constructing this museum and working it for a outlined time period. Without their help and their experience, we wouldn’t have been in a position to obtain this admirable feat. The onus is now on us to hold this torch ahead. We proceed to work with them to enhance this museum’s skill to achieve folks from all walks of life.
Knowledge@Wharton: Could you discuss concerning the curatorial strategy that you simply took in inviting audiences to see humanity in a new mild? How did you give you this modern technique, and the way it was developed?
“Our vision is that any visitor to this museum should be able find a bit of their home in it.”
Ghobash: This technique was not based simply 10 years in the past when the settlement was signed. It is in our DNA. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, the founding father of the nation, performed a crucial position in defending and preserving this nation’s cultural heritage. He insisted on showcasing and displaying it by ordering the development of Al Ain Museum, the nation’s first museum. Places such because the Sir Bani Yas church and monastery positioned on Sir Bani Yas island have been preserved and opened to the general public to encourage cultural dialog. We are constructing on that heritage of enabling folks to thrive by exchanging cultural understanding.
Our imaginative and prescient is that any customer to this museum ought to have the ability discover a little bit of their dwelling in it — whether or not you come from Asia, Africa, or from South America and whether or not you’re a Buddhist, a Muslim, or from another faith. You will discover a a part of your tradition or your background or your historical past on this museum. This is a international stage the place we’re going to showcase you.
Knowledge@Wharton: All museums face a paradox. They are devoted to preserving the previous, however on the identical time they have to additionally put together audiences for the longer term. How you’ve handled this paradox on the Louvre?
Ghobash: You will discover that each nice chief is grounded in his understanding of historical past. History repeats itself. Museums play a crucial position in augmenting one’s understanding of historical past by presenting incidents, tales, details, and so on. in a method that’s engaging, thrilling, and simple to grasp. We additionally work hand in hand with the ministry of schooling in mandating the go to of each scholar to the Louvre Abu Dhabi a minimum of as soon as each two years.
Knowledge@Wharton: What do you anticipate to perform by mandating that?
Ghobash: It is rather like any faculty journey. Our authorities feels that the Louvre Abu Dhabi and what it represents is essential and each little one needs to be uncovered to its evolving exhibitions to know varied cultures and parts of historical past as they develop themselves of their years as college students from kindergarten right through grade 12.
Knowledge@Wharton: Museums throughout completely different areas face the frequent downside of attracting solely a slim cultural elite and never a broad viewers. How have you ever handled that problem on the Louvre Abu Dhabi?
Ghobash: I consider museums as we speak communicate to everybody; you can find that by analyzing the visitation figures. It all comes down to 2 issues: How you talk the museum’s significance and the great thing about it; and the way you retain the model agile with out trespassing on its cultural identification and power. How you then synchronize what you do within the advertising and marketing and communication together with your product providing.
Your product will not be solely your everlasting and momentary exhibitions. It can also be your programming, your workshops, your occasions, and so forth. You want to know your viewers higher and cater to their wants. The fantastic thing about being in Abu Dhabi is that you’re inside a few hours flight of fairly a important proportion of the world’s inhabitants. Everyone can simply fly by right here.
Knowledge@Wharton: Another problem that many museums face is connecting with younger folks. Can you give any examples of the methods during which you’ve used interactivity or know-how as a approach of participating with youthful audiences?
“Museums play an important role in augmenting one’s understanding of history through presenting incidents, tales, facts, etc. in a manner that is enticing, exciting, and easy to comprehend.”
Ghobash: First and foremost is our program with the ministry of schooling. We have a lot of faculty children coming by. We appeal to them by growing state-of-the-art toolkits. These toolkits are given to academics. All academics are invited to the museum earlier than they begin the tutorial yr, we transient them on the content material and we prep them. The journey begins within the classroom when the schoolchildren are ready for the go to. And they’re debriefed after the go to. That creates love, respect and appreciation.
Beyond that, we’ve kids’s workshops, we’ve the primary of its sort kids’s museum, varied performances and so forth. Also, no matter exhibition we do, there may be all the time a component that caters to kids. For instance, after we had an exhibition on Japan, we infused the expertise with Manga lab workshops with Japanese animation. We flew in world-class animators and artists from internationally to work together with children. You need to be “cool” as a museum, or you’ll miss out on attracting kids. We are additionally in a position to work together with folks of dedication. We have positioned varied multi-sensory works throughout our galleries that folks can contact and really feel. We need to communicate to everybody. Bit by bit we’re demonstrating that we’re profitable in doing so.
Knowledge@Wharton: How do you utilize social media to attach with audiences past those that can bodily come to the museum?
Ghobash: We use social media to promote no matter is occurring within the museum — exhibitions, applications, talks, performances, and so forth.
This drives visitation. We additionally use social media to show our management and understanding of issues. For occasion, every time we uncover new issues or we work on analysis on sure objects, we put teasers on social media and drive visitors in direction of our web site.
A extremely profitable advertising and marketing marketing campaign — which received a lot of awards — was the Highway Gallery which we launched final yr. It was the primary of its sort. We took over dozens of billboards and we labored with the native radio stations. So as you have been driving on the freeway, you possibly can tune into a outlined radio station, and there could be a narrative telling you about each artwork piece that you simply drove previous. The concept was to extend folks’s consciousness and information concerning the artwork and likewise arouse their curiosity and appeal to them to the museum.
Knowledge@Wharton: What would you just like the world to be taught concerning the tradition of the Arab world by the Louvre Abu Dhabi?
“You have to be ‘cool’ as a museum, or you will miss out on attracting children.”
Ghobash: We have a historical past that’s a whole bunch of 1000’s of years previous. This area was a melting pot for folks from all walks of life. It was a cross part for commerce routes. That is what we wish folks to know and what the museum makes an attempt to showcase. We have a number of collections on mortgage from different museums in France, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the broader Arab area. We present these international locations the chance to showcase their historical past and tradition in our museum, which is a international stage.
Knowledge@Wharton: How do you view the position of tourism in serving to Abu Dhabi, and likewise all the UAE, diversify away from oil as a supply of financial development?
Ghobash: Tourism performs a crucial position within the diversification of GDP. It not solely helps transfer companies and the economic system by direct expenditures however the financial multiplier impact can also be important. Today, due to the tourism sector, there may be elevated funding in hospitality, retail, actual property, the companies business, and so forth.
At the oblique degree, the long term story which I consider we’re obligated to play within the tourism sector or the cultural sector, is that whenever you come right here and also you see how tolerant and numerous and culturally accepting the Emiratis are, and this nation is, you’ll go away with a seed planted in your head considering, I need to do enterprise on this nation, or I need to reside and work on this nation. That is the longer-term sport.