i+D - July/August 2019 - 40

On View - By Jesse Bratter

The Art of Housing Art
But, what about when the building itself is just as much a
work of art as the exhibits inside? Enter the Etihad Museum in
Dubai. Detailing the history of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
through a series of interactive, experiential exhibitions, Etihad
(or together in English) was designed by Moriyama & Teshima
Architects in Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, winners of
the 2018 Merit Award given by the Association of Registered
Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO). The waterfront museum
comprises a series of underground spaces that house galleries,
theaters, and archival facilities. But, the entrance pavilion-
perched above ground overlooking a travertine plaza and
reflection pond-serves as the pièce de résistance, with its
curvaceous forms and golden columns paying tribute to the
parchment and pens used to sign the document that created
the UAE in 1971. The pavilion is filled with sinuous surfaces and
staircases, latticed jali screens, and lightwells that illuminate the
underground galleries. "The interiors were formed holistically
with the architecture," says Chen Cohen, who served as
director of interior design for Moriyama & Teshima when the
museum was designed and is currently principal of interior
design at DIALOG in Toronto. "Both honor the United Arab
Emirates' conception story and the important events that took
place on that site."
Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail, nor UV rays beaming
through the windows, or even the lack of a façade all together
will keep these permanent, pop-up, and nomadic museums
from bringing art and stories to their audiences. Whether
dreaming up the layout of an exhibition, the space planning and
wayfinding, the narrative, or the building itself, they all share
the same goal: "to capture the artistic and curatorial intent in
every corner of the exhibition, while still keeping the artwork
safe and accessible to the visitor," Holdorf says. And, then,
stay out of the way and let the art speak for itself.

As much a piece of art as the exhibitions it
houses, the Etihad Museum in Dubai has
been designed in the shape of a manuscript,
with seven columns built into the museum
to resemble the pens used to sign the
original UAE declaration.
(Image: Felix Loechner)

"Anything that upends visitors'
expectations, in terms of scale, size,
intricacy, and interactivity, can leave them
with a lasting impression. Sometimes,
you just need to give the artwork
the right placement and amount of space
and it will 'wow' on its own."

JESSE BRAT TER
is a freelance writer, editor, and stylist based in New York.
She is the co-founder of In The Pursuit and STORY
magazine, and contributes to Modern Luxury, 1stdibs,
Quest, and Meredith publications, including Beautiful
Kitchens & Baths, Mediterranean Homes & Lifestyles,
and Country French. Formerly, she was an editor for Luxe
Interiors + Design and Florida Design Magazine.

-WILLOW HOLDORF, MUSEUM OF ARTS AND DESIGN

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