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Kuwait National Museum – a showcase of history and culture
February 22, 2018, 12:11 pm

The Kuwaiti National Museum, which celebrated its diamond jubilee on 31 December 2017, showcases efforts of the past 60 years in preserving for future generations the history and culture of Kuwait.

The origin of the museum can be traced back to the comprehensive renaissance that happened in Kuwait during the reign of the late Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah (1950-1965). During this period Kuwait witnessed many major social and economic transformations including in the concept of culture with respect to fine arts, literature and poetry.

With a keen interest in preserving Kuwait’s archaeological history, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem requested experts from Denmark’s Moesgaard Museum to examine archaeological antiques in Failaka. He also established the Department of Antiquity and Museums to restore, preserve and display the unearthed artifacts.

Records show that the first building to host the museum was an administration building in Dasman area, belonging to Sheikh Khaz’al bin Jaber bin Merdaw Al-Ka’bi (1863-1936). This historic building was bought and transformed into a palace by the first Minister of Education of Kuwait Sheikh Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. During his reign, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah transformed part of the palace into the National Museum of Kuwait, with its official opening happening on 31 December, 1957.

Kuwait National Museum was the first museum in the entire Arabian Gulf region and was initially supervised by Ahmad Al-Othman, who attended the opening ceremony in 1957, and then the responsibility was passed on to Tareq Rajab, the first official director of the National Museum.

The museum initially displayed traditional antiques representing the Kuwaiti environment. In 1958, some of the antiques discovered by the Danish archeological team in Failaka Island were added to the museum’s collection. Most of these antiques dated back to the Bronze Age and Hellenistic period.
In 1976, the museum went through a transition when it was relocated temporarily to Bait Bader, one of Kuwait’s historic houses along the sea-front in Al-Qibla area. Bait Bader, which was built in 1837, and depicted the social and economic aspects prevailing in Kuwait society in mid-19th century, was incorporated by the Department of Antiquity and Museums in 1968.  

On 23 February 1983, the National Museum of Kuwait opened at its current location. The museum's building was designed by Michel Ecochard, a renowned French architect and urban planner.  Since its opening, the museum has continued its role of capturing and representing the culture, tradition and heritage of Kuwait and its people.

The collections exhibited in the museum show visitors the richness and deep roots of Kuwait history and the museum is regarded as a cultural establishment that reflects the country’s contributions to global civilization.


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