Al Salam Palace Museum
Direct link: https://vimeo.com/395990938
Experiential - Incorporating: audiovisual, graphic and object-based displays
In 2013, Studio MB was commissioned by the Amiri Diwan to design a new national museum and cultural centre within the shell of a former Kuwaiti Palace, left in ruin following the Iraqi invasion in 1990.The 15,000m2 restored, repurposed and reimagined Al Salam Palace Museum opened to the public in February 2020. It delivers 26 exhibition galleries in two immersive museum visitor experiences. A suite of temporary exhibition galleries, an underground courtyard with a café, shop and education centre, a digital library complex, and a suite of VIP reception facilities complete the offering.The exhibitions on the ground floor tell the unique story of the Palace presented in four carefully restored room sets. These rooms present the stories of the famous and infamous dignitaries who visited. The final gallery is a room not restored, but left in ruin as it was. Projections of the Palace in ruin washes over the walls and is overlaid with historic film and photography, showing the original grandeur of the Palace and the people from around the world who came to visit.The exhibitions on the second floor tell the amazing 300-year history of Kuwait told through its fifteen rulers. The story starts with an immersive AV journey across deserts and sea. As the visitors follow in the footsteps of people seeking a new homeland, they are washed in projected animation and sound, until their arrival in Kuwait.Each new era is represented within a unique gallery environment that draws inspiration from the changes to this developing country. One gallery echoes a souk, another a ship’s hull, another with the arrival of photography. Artefacts and models are embedded within the story, including the actual silver valve used to start the flow of oil in 1946. The history of Kuwait galleries culminates with the current Amir Diwan. His gallery includes a wraparound panoramic AV of Kuwait today, formed using 24 wall projectors.The most splendid part of the Palace is the fully restored triple height central atrium, with subtly embedded AV deliveries that dramatically transform the space. These include a 290-degree wraparound wall projection that sits high above a restored giant chandelier to deliver an immersive AV overview, whilst a 5-metre diameter area of LED inset floor tiles creates an inset ‘Well of History’. Early civilisations dating back thousands of years into Kuwait’s past are glimpsed as excavated artefacts float to the surface.