I’ve just returned from Abu Dhabi, on board the Art Bus. We trundled our way to the rather nice ‘Wonders of Mesopotamia’ exhibition on Saadiyat Island. The official release has this to say: 

“Opening on 29th March 2011, the exhibition will introduce the treasures of the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia (Modern Iraq and parts of Syria), a region crucial to the development of human civilisation. The exhibition, in collaboration with The British Museum, will be shown at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island as part of a series of exhibitions in advance of the opening of Zayed National Museum in 2014.”

The exhibition is well worth a visit. And it’s being accompanied by snackies, lunches and talks in what is really an interesting cultural programme of events. Details here.

I was really there for was a talk on what identity a national museum must assume in contemporary times. Should it be a relic holding house for times bygone, or an education institution? Should it be concerned with aesthetics or become the new public square and social coffee shop? There was much of interest said by the panelists Neil Macgregor, Henri Loyrette, Dr. Shobita Punja and Dr. Wafaa El Saddik but I’d be killing a piece I’m writing for Shawati magazine if I say too much.

But I digress. This is about the Art Bus. Now, the Art Bus initiative was started back in the day by the Jam Jar to ferry people around the many attractions surrounding Art Dubai. It’s now a fairly regular institution. If there are cultural programmes in far flung places around the seven emirates, chances are there will be an Art Bus to take you there. There were regular runs to the Biennale in the ‘Emirate That Shall Not Be Named Due to Buoycott By This Blog’ recently. It’s a really really lovely initative, and I love the Jam Jar for coming up with it. Dubai Culture has now taken a hand in it, and sponsors the buses. Brilliant.

The trip massaged my memory till I recalled a few stellar pictures sitting around. So here we go: This is how much fun the Art Bus can really be. These buses were used during the Sikka Art Fair and Art Dubai, and the custom paint job is  courtesy local artists. The women are, alas, not included.

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