Celebrating International Museum Day, here’s a comprehensive list of all your favourite museums across all emirates
Whether you’re an explorer, art enthusiast or history buff, International Museum Day on 18 May is the perfect time to explore the UAE’s vibrant museum scene.
Indeed, expect museums to offer unique and enriching experiences to celebrate this special occasion, including free entry to Louvre Abu Dhabi as well as to all museums under the Sharjah Museums Authority.
From children’s museums to hidden gems of art and archaeology, the UAE has plenty of museums and cultural offerings to satisfy every curiosity.
So embrace the spirit of discovery and celebrate the power of museums to inspire, educate and captivate visitors of all ages.
Here’s a closer look at the UAE’s remarkable museums and galleries.
The Cultural Foundation is a prominent cultural centre in Abu Dhabi that promotes art, literature, and performing arts. With its exhibition spaces, theatres and libraries, the foundation hosts a year-round series of exhibitions and public programmes.
For more information, visit culturalfoundation.ae
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Set to become an architectural marvel on Saadiyat Island, this world-class museum is dedicated to contemporary art and culture. Guggenheim Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island will feature a diverse collection of artworks and host exhibitions that celebrate artistic creativity. Currently under construction, the museum is expected to open in 2025.
For more information, visit guggenheim.org/abu-dhabi
Miraj Museum is a hidden gem that houses an impressive collection of Islamic artifacts and artwork sourced from around the world, including places like Egypt, Syria, Iran, India, Iraq, Kashmir and Russia. Located in Marina Office Park, Near Marina Mall, the museum lets you explore beautifully crafted calligraphy, manuscripts, ceramics and textiles that showcase the artistic heritage of the Islamic world.
For more information, visit visitabudhabi.ae/en/what-to-see/historical-and-cultural-attractions/miraj-islamic-centre
Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi
The Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi offers a fascinating journey through time and space, from the beginning of the universe to a thought-provoking perspective into our Earth’s future. Located in Saadiyat Cultural District, the museum will also feature some of the rarest natural history specimens ever found on the planet. The museum is currently under construction and will open in 2025.
For more information, visit abudhabiculture.ae/en/experience/museums/natural-history-museum-abu-dhabi
Salwa Zeidan Gallery
Salwa Zeidan Gallery is dedicated to contemporary art from the Middle East and beyond. The gallery showcases a diverse range of artworks, including paintings, sculptures and installations by established and emerging artists. Located at the Millenium Capital Gate, the gallery features artworks that bare two common traits: minimalist vision and sensibility.
For more information, visit salwazeidangallery.com
The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi
The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi is a dynamic exhibition space that features a wide range of contemporary artworks and curated exhibitions. The gallery provides a platform for artists and scholars to engage with diverse audiences.
For more information, visit nyuad-artgallery.org
Women’s Handicraft Centre
The Women’s Handicraft Centre in Al Mushrif celebrates the traditional crafts and skills of Emirati women. Visitors can explore an array of handmade products created by local artisans.
For more information, call 02 447 6645
Zayed National Museum
Zayed National Museum, currently under construction, is a highly anticipated cultural landmark dedicated to the life and legacy of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Located at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island Cultural District, the museum will showcase Sheikh Zayed’s vision, achievements and contributions to the nation.
For more information, visit abudhabiculture.ae/en/experience/museums/zayed-national-museum
Al Ain Classic Cars Museum
Step into the world of automotive history and explore a remarkable collection of vintage and classic cars at the Al Ain Classic Cars Museum. Located in the Ain Al Fida Complex, the museum showcases the evolution of automobile design and technology.
For more information, visit alainclassiccarsmuseum.net
Al Ain Museum
With its diverse exhibits and artifacts, the Al Ain Museum offers insights into the region’s history, archaeology and traditional way of life. Discover the rich heritage and cultural traditions of Al Ain and explore exhibits that highlight the city’s evolution, from prehistoric times to the present.
For more information, visit abudhabiculture.ae/en/heritage-records/heritage-and-cultural-sites/al-ain-museum
Al Ain Palace Museum
Al Ain Palace Museum offers a unique opportunity to step inside the former residence of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE. Experience the elegance of Emirati royal life as you explore the beautifully preserved rooms and majestic halls. Discover the personal artifacts and photographs that offer a glimpse into the life of the UAE’s visionary leader.
For more information, visit tcaabudhabi.ae/en/what.we.do/culture/museums/al.ain.palace.museum.aspx
Al Jahili Fort
This captivating historical landmark stands as a testament to Al Ain’s rich heritage. One of the largest forts in the UAE, Al Jahili showcases exhibitions that reflect the importance of Al Ain to Abu Dhabi’s ruling family and the nation’s history.
For more information, abudhabiculture.ae/en/experience/historic-landmarks/al-jahili-fort
Al Qattara Arts Centre
Located in the heart of Al Ain, Al Qattara Arts Centre displays art by Emirati and UAE-based artists. Archoloagical findings from theIron Age are on permanent display in the Qattara Archaeological Basement. The centre also has a Dry Studio for music and handicrafts classes, and a Wet Studio for drawing and painting classes. There is also a Pottery Studio and a Calligraphy Studio. Opening hours are from 9am to 8pm.
For more information, visit abudhabiculture.ae/en/experience/culture-centres/al-qattara-arts-centre
Qasr Al Muwaiji
Located at the western approach to Al Ain city, Qasr Al Muwaiji is a historic fort and museum that offers a glimpse into the rich heritage of the UAE. It served as the home and administrative base for the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, when he became the Ruler’s Representative in the Al Ain Region in 1946. Representing a fine example of early 20th century mudbrick architecture, there is much to explore and learn about the cultural significance of this architectural gem.
For more information, visit abudhabiculture.ae/en/experience/historic-landmarks/qasr-al-muwaiji
Al Ahmadiya School
One of Dubai’s oldest educational institutions, Al Ahmadiya School lets you immerse yourself in the traditional Emirati educational experience and explore the classrooms, courtyard and historical exhibits. Founded in 1912, the school was restored in 1994 and turned into a museum.
For more information, visit dubaiculture.gov.ae/en/attractions/heritage-sites/al-ahmadiya-school
Al Shindagha Museum
Located in Al Shindagha neighbourhood, Al Shindagha Museum lets you discover the vibrant history and culture of Dubai and its maritime traditions through engaging displays, interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations.
For more information, visit alshindagha.dubaiculture.gov.ae/en/Pages/faq.aspx
Bait Al Banat Women’s Museum
Celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Emirati women at Bait Al Banat Women’s Museum. Located in the old Gold Souq in Deira, this unique museum showcases the achievements of women in various fields, offering an inspiring journey of empowerment.
For more information, visit womenmuseumuae.com/eng/?page_id=900
Located in the Al Fahidi neighbourhood in Bur Dubai, the Coffee Museum explores the origins, history and cultural significance of the beloved beverage through informative exhibits and sensory experiences.
For more information, visit coffeemuseum.ae
Crossroad of Civilizations Museum
Embark on a captivating journey through time at the Crossroad of Civilizations Museum, located at the Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum House on Al Khaleej Road. Uncover the rich archaeological discoveries from the UAE and the wider region, providing insights into the ancient civilizations that shaped our world.
For more information, visit themuseum.ae
Dubai Municipality Museum
Experience the evolution of Dubai’s urban development and infrastructure at the Dubai Municipality Museum in Deira. Learn more about the city’s progress through interactive displays, models, and informative exhibits.
For more information, visit dm.gov.ae
Step into Dubai’s history and heritage at the Dubai Museum, housed within the historic Al Fahidi Fort. Engage in captivating displays and artifacts that narrate Dubai’s transformation from a humble fishing village to a global metropolis.
For more information, visit dubaiculture.gov.ae
The museum offers insights about the birth of the UAE and its journey to nationhood. Located in 1 Jumeirah St in Al Mina area, the Etihad Museum engages visitors with immersive exhibits, multimedia presentations and archival materials that tell the story of the country’s formation.
For more information, visit etihadmuseum.dubaiculture.gov.ae
Emirates Soil Museum
There’s much to learn about the fascinating world beneath our feet at the Emirates Soil Museum in Academic City. Learn about the importance of soil in agriculture, conservation and sustainability through informative displays and educational programmes.
For more information, visit emiratessoilmuseum.ae
Step back in time at the Heritage Village, an enchanting open-air museum that offers a glimpse into Dubai’s rich cultural heritage. Located in Al Shindagha Historical Neighborhood, close to the Diving Village, the Heritage Village explores traditional architecture, artisanal crafts and the Bedouin way of life.
History of Cinema Museum
The History of Cinema Museum (HOC) in Dubai takes you on a journey through the evolution of cinema. Discover the milestones, technological advancements and iconic films that have shaped the world of motion pictures.
For more information, visit hocmuseum.com
House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum
A historic residence that has been transformed into a museum, the House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum offers unique insights about Dubai’s royal family. Located along the Dubai Creek in the Al Shindagha area, the House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum features traditional Arabian architecture, artifacts and photographs showcasing the city’s past.
For more information, visit dubaiculture.gov.ae
Jameel Arts Centre
A contemporary art centre that features rotating exhibitions, installations and performances. Jameel Arts Centre engages visitors with thought-provoking artworks from the Middle East and beyond. Visitors can also participate in various cultural programmes and workshops.
For more information, visit jameelartscentre.org
Museum of Illusions
Step into a world of optical illusions and mind-bending exhibits at the Museum of Illusions in Al Seef along the Dubai Creek. Challenge your perception, snap quirky photos and discover the wonders of visual trickery at this truly unique museum.
For more information, visit museumofillusions.ae
Museum of the Future
The Museum of the Future is a groundbreaking institution that explores cutting-edge technologies and their potential impact on society. Have fun and learn through interactive displays, innovative exhibits and immersive experiences that envision the possibilities of tomorrow.
For more information, visit museumofthefuture.ae/en
Museum of the Poet Al Oqaili
Pay homage to the renowned Emirati poet, Al Oqaili, at the Museum of the Poet Al Oqaili. Located in Deira, the museum encourages you to delve into his life, literary works and contributions to Emirati culture through displays, manuscripts, and multimedia presentations.
For more information, visit dubaiculture.gov.ae/en/attractions/museums/al-oqaili-museum
Naif Museum is a cultural gem that preserves the heritage of Dubai’s Naif Fort. A former police headquarters and prison dating back to 1939, the museum transports you to a bygone era and provides interesting insights about the development of Dubai’s police force. Located in one of the wings of Naif Police Station, the museum offers a glimpse of how the city has evolved through artifacts, photographs and interactive displays.
For more information, visit dubaiculture.gov.ae
Designed for young explorers, OliOli is an interactive children’s museum that combines learning with play. With its imaginative exhibits and hands-on activities, children can unleash their creativity, curiosity and problem-solving skills in a stimulating environment.
For more information, visit olioli.ae
Salsali Private Museum
Salsali Private Museum is a hidden gem dedicated to contemporary art. The museum features a carefully curated collection of international contemporary artworks, providing a unique space for artistic exploration.
For more information, visit salsalipm.com
Saruq Al Hadid Archaeology Museum
Step into the world of archaeology at Saruq Al Hadid Archaeology Museum, located in the Shindagha Historic District. This museum tells the story of one of the most exciting and mysterious archaeological sites yet discovered in the emirate, featuring fascinating artifacts and discoveries from the Saruq Al Hadid archaeological site.
For more information, visit dm.gov.ae/discover-dubai/saruq-al-hadid
Al Mahatta Museum
The museum sits on the site of the first airport in the region, and fittingly invites visitors to embark on a journey into aviation history. Located in Al Mahatta area, the museum is housed in a renovated airport building and offers insights into the region’s early aviation industry. Explore vintage aircraft, photographs, and artifacts that highlight the development of aviation in the UAE.
For more information, visit sharjahmuseums.ae/en-us/museums/al-mahatta-museum
Bait Al Naboodah
Experience the traditional Emirati way of life at Bait Al Naboodah, located in Al Mareija area in the heart of Sharjah. This restored heritage house in Sharjah provides a glimpse into the past, showcasing the architecture, furnishings, and cultural artifacts of a prominent Emirati family. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a bygone era and learn about Emirati heritage.
For more information, visit sharjahmuseums.ae/en-US/Museums/Bait-Al-Naboodah
Mleiha Archaeological Centre
Uncover the secrets of the ancient civilizations that once thrived in the Mleiha region at the Mleiha Archaeological Centre. Located deep into the deserts of Sharjah, the museum offers fascinating insights into the archaeological discoveries of the area, including artifacts, fossils, and interactive exhibits.
For more information, visit discovermleiha.ae
Immerse yourself in the maritime heritage of the UAE at the Maritime Museum, located in Al Khan, close to the Sharjah Aquarium. The museum showcases the seafaring traditions, boat-building techniques and the historical significance of maritime trade routes.
For more information, visit sharjahmuseums.ae/en-US/Museums/Sharjah-Maritime-museum
Sharjah Archaeology Museum
Step into the ancient past at the Sharjah Archaeology Museum. Nestled in Sharjah’s Al Abar area, the museum offers a diverse range of archaeological artifacts, including pottery, tools, and jewellery, providing insights into the region’s prehistoric and ancient civilizations.
For more information, visit sharjahmuseums.ae/en-US/Museums/Sharjah-Archaeology-Museum
Sharjah Art Museum
Dive into the vibrant world of art and creativity at the Sharjah Art Museum. Located in the Arts Area, Al-Shuwaihean, in the Heart of Sharjah, the museum showcases a vast collection of contemporary and traditional artworks from the Arab world and beyond.
For more information, visit sharjahartmuseum.ae
Sharjah Calligraphy Museum
Celebrate the beauty and intricate art of calligraphy and its cultural significance through a collection of masterpieces and interactive displays at the Sharjah Calligraphy Museum. Located in Calligraphy Square, Heart of Sharjah, the museum presents diverse scripts and styles of calligraphy from around the world.
For more information, visit sharjahmuseums.ae/en-US/Museums/Sharjah-Calligraphy-Museum
Sharjah Classic Car Museum
If vintage automobile is your thing, you need to pay a visit to the Sharjah Classic Car Museum. Located on Airport Road, next to Sharjah International Airport, the museum boasts a remarkable collection of classic cars, from antique models to iconic sports cars. It’s hard not to admire the craftsmanship, design and engineering of these timeless automotive treasures.
For more information, visit visitsharjah.com/en/activities/family/sharjah-classic-car-museum
Sharjah Fort (Al Hisn Sharjah)
Explore the rich history of Sharjah at the Sharjah Fort, also known as Al Hisn Sharjah. Located in the Heart of Sharjah, Al Shuwaihen area, the historical fortress offers a glimpse of what was life in Sharjah two centuries ago, through its well-preserved architecture and informative exhibits.
For more information, visit sharjahmuseums.ae/en-US/Museums/Sharjah-Fort-(Al-Hisn)
Housed within a restored fort, the Ajman Museum takes visitors on a captivating exploration of the city’s history and cultural traditions. The museum presents archaeological discoveries and exhibits that shed light on Ajman’s evolution.
For more information, visit visit-ajman.ae
Discover the rich history and heritage of Fujairah with exhibits that showcase archaeological findings, traditional crafts and cultural artifacts. From ancient artifacts to contemporary displays, the Fujairah Museum offers a fascinating journey through time.
RAS AL KHAIMAH
National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah
Located in a centuries-old fort, the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah offers a comprehensive insight into the region’s history, culture and traditions. From archaeological artifacts to interactive displays, visitors can immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Ras Al Khaimah’s past.
For more information, visit rakheritage.rak.ae/en/pages/rakmuseum.aspx
Follow Yalla – Abu Dhabi Life for all the latest news across the capital and beyond