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The Museum of the Future Opens in Dubai

A man takes a picture with his phone ahead of the opening ceremony of the Museum of the Future in Dubai, United Arab Emirates REUTERS/Christopher Pike

Situated in the Financial District of Dubai, the Museum of the Future has finally opened its doors for the first time following a two-month-long delay. The museum’s management team had expected to open the institution – that is devoted to futuristic technology and sustainable manufacturing solutions – to the public in December 2021. However, some last-minute delays meant that the decision was taken to hold back on the official launch. This came on 22-02-22, a date chosen because of its near-palindromic nature.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates said that his future-focussed vision for Dubai was what underpinned the concept behind the Museum of the Future. Noting the opening of the museum, he said that the future belongs to the people who can imagine it, design it and then turn it into a reality. “The future isn’t something you wait for but create,” he said. According to the creative team behind the museum, most cultural institutions are there to showcase the traditions of people and to highlight their cultures, their histories and their fine art. However, the Museum of the Future in Dubai is different because it doesn’t focus on the past in the same way. Rather, it is there to help people to visualise what the future could look like.

Members of museum staff fly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the Museum of the Future in Dubai, United Arab Emirates REUTERS/Christopher Pike

Challenges and Solutions

Put together by the Dubai Future Foundation, the museum wants to provide a platform so that people from around the world are better equipped to find solutions to the many challenges humans face today. According to the foundation, the museum will help people to design a better world by showcasing the very latest ideas, styles, materials and futuristic technologies. To do this, the Museum of the Future makes use of a variety of elements, both virtual and physical. According to those who have established it, the museum will function more like a platform through which numerous different philosophies, spiritual learnings, ideas and designs can be shared. Designed to inspire, it is hoped that the museum will help people to work on solutions to problems in a spirit of collaborative endeavour. As such, the mission of the Museum of the Future is very different in scope from many cultural institutions. What can visitors expect from it?

To begin with, the Museum of the Future has a very futuristic architectural design in its own right. Announced back in 2015, the design for the museum was put together by Killa Design architecture studio. A torus-shaped shell is the building’s most remarkable external feature. It sits on top of the building and required innovative building modelling software to construct, such are the complex nature of the curves in the torus.

A member of the museum staff works in an exhibit at the Museum of the Future in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, REUTERS/Christopher Pike

Seven Storeys

Inside, the museum has seven storeys, each of which are dedicated to different exhibition spaces. Three of the seven museum floors focus on current technological research. One is devoted to ongoing resource development research for future outer space travel while another is focussed on ecosystems and bio-engineering. Another deals with the latest work that is ongoing in the fields of healthcare and human well-being. The remaining four stories are devoted to near-future technologies that are not yet so well developed. Various sectors are covered in these floors with gallery space devoted to nascent technologies in fields like food, transportation, water and energy. The museum’s seventh floor is dedicated to children, who represent the future in a very real sense, of course.

According to reports in the Dubai press, three floors in the museum have been curated to make them seem as though they are a future film set in which visitors can explore and interact with different technologies through a range of immersive experiences. The Museum of the Future said that it wants to provide a combination of elements that will prompt attendees with thought-provoking material. The basic idea is to look beyond the current possibilities that modern technologies offer to what sort of future may be possible. The way the museum is aiming to do this is through exhibitions that showcase new technologies but also with immersive theatrical experiences plus some themed attractions. One of these ‘attraction experiences’, as they are called, aims to take visitors to the world as it will be in 2071. Although this attraction is partially based on what its curators imagine the world will be like, much of it is based on the sort of technological advances that are currently in development.

Just one of the current technologies that the museum makes use of is augmented reality (AR). Like virtual reality, AR is nothing new to the museum sector but the Museum of the Future is using it in remarkably cutting-edge ways and combining it – or showcasing it alongside – other futuristic technologies. The idea isn’t so much to show off the technical aspects of such technology but to show people how it might change their lives. As Lath Carlson, executive director of the Museum of the Future, put it when speaking to the western press, “we are focussed on the human aspect of the future.”

Exhibits are seen at the Museum of the Future in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
REUTERS/Christopher Pike

Experiential Galleries

Carlson went on to say that his team was looking closely at the sort of challenges that humans will face going forward and trying to determine which creative solutions people might make use of to best overcome them. Given the creative nature of the exhibitions, Carlson said that visitors shouldn’t expect artefacts displayed in glass cases. “Instead, in many of the principal galleries, there won’t be labelled objects at all,” he said. “[The museum]… will offer a completely immersive experience, one that engages the visitor with their own contribution to their experience.” According to the director, this will afford attendees to the museum a more memorable and engaging visitor experience than simply viewing someone else’s work.

Tickets to the Museum of the Future can now be booked online. Adults and children will expect to pay 145 Dirhams each for entry, about £30. However, children under three years of age will not be charged. Instead, they will be encouraged to visit the ‘Future Heroes’ area that is appropriate for that age group. Some complimentary tickets are also on offer but these are restricted to senior Emirati citizens and certain individuals who require care.

About the author – Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.

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