Bahrain’s museums demand attention. Focusing on the nation’s rich cultural heritage, oil and even the Quran, the pearl of the Arabian Gulf is extremely proud of its history. A quick look into the must visit museums in the nation:
Located between Manama and Muharraq, Bahrain National Museum accommodates nine main halls displaying the heritage of the Kingdom of Bahrain with its 6 different sections. Perched on the edge of the sea, the museum is a fantastic attraction, adding to its contemporary ambience which is influenced by the white travertine façade and theatrical courtyard decorated with modern sculptures. The history of the museum goes back to 1956, when the first exhibition of the artifacts discovered by a Danish archaeological expedition was held at Al-Hidaya Al-Khalifiya in Muharraq. Visitors to the museum will be taken on a 4,000 year journey through time as they pass through its halls, from the usual handicrafts hall, to the customs and traditions hall, burial mounds hall, ancient documents and manuscripts hall, Tylos hall, and Islamic period hall. The highlights of the collections, which are housed in a postmodern structure with a backdrop landscaping the waterfront location up to the windows, are the archaeological finds from ancient Dilmun, the reproduction souq covering Traditional Trades and Crafts on the 1st floor and the cosmic satellite photo of Bahrain that takes up much of the ground floor. Other exhibits include a Hall of Graves, Customs and Traditions, the Islamic era and Documents and Manuscripts. Over the years, the museum has aimed to enhance the knowledge of Bahrain’s history among the locals and tourists, alike. The museum shop is excellent, there’s a chic cafe, several gallery spaces are used for contemporary exhibitions of art and sculpture, and the labeling (in English and Arabic) is first-rate throughout.
Marking the 60th anniversary of the discovery of oil in 1992, this museum sits in an impressive white-stone building, in the silhouette Bahrain’s highest point Jebel ad-Dukhan, also known as the “Mountain of Smoke”. The museum building is a symbol of the country’s wealth, since it celebrates the point at which ‘black gold’ was struck for the first time on this side of the Gulf. A walk through the museum will take patrons through exhibits, photographs and explanations about the oil industry in Bahrain. For the more enthusiastic ones, the country’s first oil well is a few meters away, which was constructed in 1932.
Tucked away in Manama is Beit Al Qur’an (House of the Qur’an), founded in 1990, devoted entirely to the understanding of the holy book and Islamic heritage. Beit Al Qur’an is made up of five main parts. The first is the majlis, or ‘gathering place’. The second part is the library, holding over 20,000 books and manuscripts in three languages – Arabic, English and French – the majority of which are on Islam. The third is the Mohammed Bin Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa Lecture Hall which can seat 150 people and is used for lectures and conferences. The fourth section is the Yousuf Bin Ahmad Kanoo School for Qur’anic Studies, offering seven study areas. Lastly, the Al Hayat Museum with over two floors exhibits rare Qur’anic manuscripts from different periods, starting from the first century AD, on parchments from Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, Damascus and Baghdad. The centre is free to the general public.