A National Museum for Abu Dhabi

Zayed National Museum

The Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi is central to the new museums quarter on Saadiyat Island, opening in 2016 after Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Museum and before Gehry’s Guggenheim. In 2008 Event was appointed to deliver the exhibition design of the Zayed National Museum, working closely with architects Foster + Partners and with the British Museum to tell the story of Sheikh Zayed – founder and ruler of the UAE – along with the story of the Emirates, charting recent social and economic developments.

Event’s scope included six thematic galleries andthe Sheikh Zayed Library, as well as all the public spaces and, in collaboration with WATG landscape designers, the design and interpretation of the Timeline Garden. Our brief was to imbue the spaces and storytelling with the vision and beliefs of Sheikh Zayed, while maximising the potential of the architecture. All aspects of the museum’s identity flow from Sheikh Zayed and the country in which he was so deeply rooted.

The Zayed National Museum is a collections-led museum. It is estimated that on completion, the galleries will display in the region of 3,000 items, approximately thirty percent of which will be three-dimensional objects and the balance historical photographs, film and archival material. It will be through the use of this historically significant material that the museum stories are brought to life. A range of media and interpretative design techniques combine to create an engaging, vital and stimulating set of galleries that enable the personalities of the region and its people as well as Sheikh Zayed himself to come to the fore.

Event’s design solutions responded to the dramatic architecture of the gallery pods, using the verticality and physicality of the spaces to express ideas or help articulate the story. These solutions included a single sculptural form that rises up towards the oculus in the Faith and Islam Gallery, an intervention that takes visitors up to higher levels in the History and Society Gallery, and large-scale projections in the Land and Water Gallery. In every instance our design shaped the ways in which visitors engage with spaces and blur the point at which the architecture ends and the exhibition begins.

This is a large-scale and complex project, with a demanding programme. Multiple strands of work, including collections and narrative development, were carried out in parallel. Our project management team ensured careful coordination between Event’s outputs and those of the other consultants.

Project type


Scope of works

  • Exhibition Design and Creative Direction
  • Graphic Design
  • Construction Management




Abu Dhabi, UAE


2008 - 2014

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