Hareth Al Bustani
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has signed an agreement with France’s Centre Pompidou to develop a contemporary art museum in AlUla.
Signed by Arts AlUla executive director Nora Aldabal and Centre Pompidou president Laurent Le Bon, the agreement aims to create a world-class venue for regional and global 21st-century art.
The two centres will pursue a reciprocal relationship based on collections, through a special relationship for museum loans, curatorial partnerships, shared museological expertise and audience development. It will also span training, education, curatorial expertise, museum management, events and exhibitions across a variety of arts and culture spaces.
Reflecting on the agreement, Aldabal said: “Our collaboration with Centre Pompidou is another important step in our goal of empowering a thriving community of local artists, and driving knowledge and skills within the sector as we create viable opportunities for economic advancement as part of our continued transformation into a Living Museum.”
The museum will house a collection of contemporary Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian art, with immersive installations by artists from every inhabited continent. It will also feature examples of 21st-century land art and a public art commissioning programme.
The structure itself will be designed as an archipelago of pavilions, punctuated with a mosaic of artists’ gardens; which aim to present a bridge between contemporary Arab and global artists. Meanwhile, it will develop specialist curatorial expertise and scholarship in Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian art, while creating access to global Arabic-speaking audiences.
Signed in the presence of Prince Badr bin Farhan, Saudi Minister of Culture and Governor of RCU, and French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak, the agreement is the latest in a growing list for AlUla — which already has partnerships with Canon, Louvre, Misk Art Institute, Deutsches Archaologisches Institut and more.
Aldabal told The National these partnerships formed a large part of AlUla’s vision. “We do work with a number of partners and our family of partners is growing as we go. And so we’re really looking forward to working with more partners, from institutions to artists to private sector and public institutions as well, to help realise those assets.”
She said the museum would work alongside RCU’s other key cultural assets, which range from artist residency programmes and public art commissions to special exhibitions and training. “It’s not just the building — you need a lot to make that place live and the conversation, the artists collaborations, all of this, is an investment towards that, and this is what we’re doing today.”