Bahrain, Middle East, Museums, Travel

Exploring the Bahrain National Museum

May 11, 2015

In my quest to visit more of the Middle East this year, I decided to go to Bahrain over the weekend. It is a very short flight. The airline website says it is 55 minutes, but the flight back was about 20 minutes. I wasn’t keeping track on the flight over as I fell asleep! A friend of mine who is also interested in exploring the Middle East came with me.

We had both been told about the Bahrain National Museum and how amazing it is. We were not disappointed. This isn’t to say it is the best museum in the world, but when you live in a country with few museums and almost no local artifacts on display, this was a treat. The Bahrain National Museum was opened in 1988. It is a mix of history, archaeology and modern art.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the giant aerial photograph of Bahrain that was on the ground of the main floor.  It was very cool to see the scale of Bahrain. My friend and I walked around trying to find our hotel, but we think it was underneath a model display. The first floor had two temporary exhibits. One was on folktales and the other movie costumes from a specific designer. I don’t know who the designer was as I missed the label and the museum doesn’t have a good website. The permanent exhibit spaces on the first floor contained artifacts of the Dilmun civilization, which encompassed Bahrain and other Middle Eastern countries. Many of the artifacts were very old, but in very good shape. There were seals, pottery, coins, scrolls, documents and metalwork on display. Upstairs there was a life-size Souq with dioramas. While dioramas are no longer the norm in museums, they were great even if some of the mannequins needed a facelift. Look in the photo gallery for the poorly taxidermied cat! I think the dioramas worked because you walked through them instead of them being faced out behind glass.  It felt very real. There were two other galleries that were being renovated that looked intriguing. I will have to pay a visit the next time I go to see what becomes of them.

Outside is sculpture garden. It starts on the entry side and goes around the back of the museum to the water side. Some of them were huge. I am not usually a fan of sculpture but these were very beautiful and done in a modern style and seem to tell a story. Unfortunately, it was too hot to stand outside looking at them for too long.

Interesting story, my friend and I walked in the entrance and we were already hot from the 50 yards or so we had to walk from the cab. We commented on how hot it was to the guards at the ticket desk. When we asked how much, they said nothing because it’s hot. We were like okay, sounds good to us! Unfortunately, when we were leaving they were charging a family 1 dinar each for adults! We aren’t really sure why they let us in for free and I am not sure I want to know. However, if you get to Bahrain, make the museum your first stop!

Next post, Bahrain food and nightlife! Have you been to Bahrain? What was your favorite spot?

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4 Comments

  • Reply tckreads May 14, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I love how the admission was waived because it was “too hot”…or not. Sounds incredible–I would love to go someday.

    • Reply Tiffany May 14, 2015 at 10:29 am

      It was really amazing to find such a jem! Hope you get to visit.

  • Reply Jaina May 15, 2015 at 10:59 am

    That cat! That whole room with the mannequins freaked me out slightly. I could see what they were going for, but creepy. The museum though is a gem of a place. That map on the floor is amazing. We spent far too long trying to figure out where we lived on it. The outside is awesome – all the statues and art works that are dotted around with the water surrounding the museum – it’s so nicely done.

    • Reply Tiffany May 15, 2015 at 11:47 am

      I know. The baby chicks are also freaky. I want to go back when they have some more exhibits open. It looked like two were under construction.

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