02 July 2020
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Accessible Spaces of Art – Ithra Museum
This year’s International Museum Day falls at a unique time when the general public finds themselves homebound, unable to physically explore creative and artistic collections housed within museum walls. However, leading cultural institutions have adapted and delivered digital new experiences, allowing for art enthusiasts to discover virtual creative spaces from the comfort of their own homes, unaffected by physical distance.
Meeting this exciting challenge head-on, the Ithra Museum has gone fully online, and created accessible spaces of art bringing its offerings and galleries directly to online users through #IthraConnect – Ithra’s online content platform bringing all things Ithra digital. #IthraConnect brings our Ithra’s in-house art expertise, curators and collections fully online, immersing viewers in a behind the scenes exploration of the Ithra art world. Award-winning galleries, dynamic exhibitions and virtual tours available at audience fingertips to deliver an immersive and in-depth exploration of the Ithra Museum.
Steadfast in supporting the arts, Ithra has become a platform for the Saudi art scene as well as a hub to explore for art lovers, both offline and online.
Virtual is the watchword as art lovers and curious learners, can explore Ithra’s 6000m2 four-gallery museum and discover new forms of enrichment as they pass from exhibition to exhibition, all from the comfort of their screens.
The visitor’s journey begins with the gallery of contemporary Saudi art and culminates with the natural history of the Arabian Peninsula, passing through Saudi identity and heritage, and the treasures of Islamic civilization along the way.
Gallery 1, or “Funoon,” is the first of four galleries at the Museum. It is dedicated to hosting the creative contemporary works in the fields of art and design. It is the incubator of contemporary art in all its expressive forms: the avant-garde, abstract art and sculpture and the unfamiliar. This hall features work by Saudi and Middle Eastern artists and currently hosts an exhibition called Mara’ina (Our Reflections). The show features pictures from across the Arab world, by both Arab and international photographers. The images depict all aspects of life, from weddings and tourists relaxing to thought-provoking images of refugees, whose eyes betray the trauma of what they have witnessed.
The visitor then crosses into Gallery 2, or “Ajyaal”, which concentrates on Saudi heritage. It currently features an interactive exhibition Being Saudi which digitally displays Saudi clothing, textiles, music, poetry and folk culture. The exhibition is designed to bring traditional culture to life in an innovative, dynamic and unconventional way.
Gallery 3, or “Kunooz”, showcases Islamic heritage and art, displaying valuable pieces form across the Islamic world and dating back to the seventh century and across three continents. The gallery has just concluded a two-year exhibition which displayed over 130 items from the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Additionally on display is the preserved Damascus Room, dating back from 1766-67.
At the last stop of the museum Gallery 4, the “Rehlaat” gallery, takes the visitors on an immersive and interactive journey through the natural and human ecology of the Arabian Peninsula. This gallery is the most interactive gallery.
In addition to the exhibitions, the Ithra Museum’s subject matter experts offer users in-depth knowledge of Ithra’s vast collection of artifacts as well as a deep-rooted exploration in the field of art curation.
While this year’s International Museum Day may be celebrated in an unconventional way, the experience remains impactful as new worlds of art continue to open and become accessible to the public, with innovation at the forefront.
Ithra – Saudi Aramco’s flagship initiative and the largest cultural contribution to the Kingdom -- is a creative and cultural destination aiming to ignite cultural curiosity, explore knowledge and inspire creativity through the power of ideas, imagination and innovation. Located in Dhahran near the “Prosperity Well” – Saudi Arabia’s first commercially viable oil well, Ithra champions Saudi culture on the world stage and delivers contemporary, historical and traditional global culture experiences to local audiences. The virtual offerings are part of “Ithra Connect”, the Center’s online content initiative. It is available to the public at www.ithra.com or through Ithra’s various social media platforms via the hashtag #IthraConnect.