Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art, located along Muttrah Corniche, opened in January 2011 and is a must-see for all art lovers in Oman. I only became aware of this museum recently and so I wanted to share information about this impressive museum with my readers in order to encourage you to visit it for yourself. (admission-1 OR)
The museum is located near Muttrah Fort. “This museum is a dream project of Her Highness Sayyida Dr Ghalya bint Fahr bin Taimour Al Said.”
“We believe that this part of the museum will prove of interest both to local Omanis, especially the young, and tourists seeking a flavour of Oman’s rich heritage during a transformative period of its history leading to the wise rule of H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said.”
The Wedding Rooms – “We enter the first of the richly adorned rooms. Here is the bride’s mendous (wooden chest) where her dowry and other elaborate items which we see displayed around the room, would normally be kept. Peering through the second doorway, we glimpse the magical, private world of the bride, sitting on the edge of her wedding bed to be henna-ed for her wedding ceremony from the nearby wooden stand (Mubahara).”
The Kitchen and Display Rooms – “In the first room is a typical Omani kitchen of the time with its metal utensils, newly arrived Primus stoves, powdered milk, tinned and dried goods. Moving through to the second and third rooms, we find displayed elaborately carved doors, an old Omani cannon, African furniture and many imported and traditional items as Omanis truly explored modernisation as H.M. Sultan Qaboos took command and started the renaissance in the country.”
I’m fascinated by these elaborately carved doors and wish they had more information on each piece. I’m sure there’s a great story behind each one of these masterpieces.
Another display room
The Mother and Children’s Room – “Typical of Omani houses in the early/mid 1960’s, this room is full of dolls and toys for the children to play with as mothers sewed and embroidered. Omani women had a well-deserved reputation for their skill in making clothes, particularly in embroidering Omani dresses and caps.”
The Majlis – Connecting the Mother and Children’s Room and the Winter Room, this room is full of some lovely pictures of Omani art. “The Majlis (sitting room) is an example of more refined Omani residences in the 1960’s/70’s. It is the same era in which electricity found its way to Oman, abruptly bringing Omanis into the modern age with its comparative luxury. You can see lots of newly arrived utensils in this room.”
“The 60s was the transition between the old and the modern. However, the transition was not as great as expected as Omani society was unable to keep abreast with modernity due to the unstable financial situation at that time. However, goods did start to appear in Omani houses, and wealthier persons started to take an interest in culture and new technology. In this era the telephone was introduced to Omani society. Cars appeared too, with stretches of roads being paved.”
The Winter Room – “This is where the Omanis treated from the cold weather. As you can see, there are no windows, to prevent drafts and keep in the warmth. Everybody gathers here. Grandfather sleeps in this room on the high bed, all his belongings beside him, from books to prayer rugs. Grandmother shares the room with him and keeps her jewelry, perfumes and accessories here.”
“The winter room is decorated with tableware from China and other Asian countries which became more commonplace at this time.”
A beautiful painting that really transports you back in time and has you imagine what Muttrah must have been like some 50 years back.
Mussabbeh’s Room – “The room describes the Omani (Musabbeh-a term, not a name!) as he abandons his village, heading to Muscat to earn a living. As you can see, the room is a mixture of Omani artifacts and modern items, this blend of tradition and modernity creating an evocative scene. The metal-framed bed, lantern, books, perfumes and other accessories represent the post-World War II modern life. However, there is also gerab al-tamr ( a basket made of palm leaves used to store dates) which would have contained a full month’s supply of dates.”
There is impressive art everywhere at Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art – even on the outdoor walls.
Even the back gate to the museum is a work of art! :-)
Art Gallery – “The art gallery presently offers an exclusive insight into the works of up-and-coming Omani artists.” Actually, it’s not only for Omani artists, but international artists as well. The current exhibition, “Marcopolo Scultures“, is of an internationally recognized Ecuadorian artist, named “Marco Polo”.
This piece is titled “Distant Gaze” and sold for 4,160 Omani rials! The sculptures range in prices from 1,430 to 5,200 OR. Don’t worry if, like me, you don’t have 4,000 rials to spend on a sculpture; you can always buy something much cheaper at the museum gift shop!
Plenty of card, gift items and souvenirs of your visit to Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art. Don’t forget to sign the guest book!
“We hope that, during this quick tour of Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art, you felt the atmosphere of these houses and their contents.” Well, I sure did!
In an upcoming blogpost, I will show you some of the incredible murals that make up a prominent attraction of the museum known as “Wall Painting 2012“ and soon to be replaced with “Wall Painting 2013” after March 31st. Many thanks to the gracious and hospitable staff of the museum who treated us like royalty (museum-coordinators, Papia Bhattacharya and Luella Almeida as well as designer, Roshani Rajapaksha) and provided all the information you see in this post in italics. Thanks, ladies! :-)
The museum is open from 9:30am to 6pm from Saturday to Thursday. Closed on Friday. The museum is closed on public holidays as well as days set by the Management of Museum. Admission is 1 OR for ages 12 and up, 500 baizas for kids aged 6-12. Tel: (968) 2471-1640, Fax: (968)2471-1620, Email: email@example.com , Address: PO Box 445, PC 117, Al Wadi Khabir, Sultanate of Oman. www.ghalyasmuseum.com