The complete guide to the museums in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is fast growing in a centrepiece of cultural excellence in the UAE. There are a number of museums in Abu Dhabi that trace the emirate’s rich historic past. But that’s not all that you culture vultures can explore in the Abu Dhabi museums. From the fine French artists such as Monet to celebrated modern creative geniuses including Picasso and Warhol, there’s plenty to love about these museums in Abu Dhabi.
List of Museums in Abu Dhabi
Nestled in Al Bateen District, Zayed Heritage Centre or Zayed Centre is one of the retro museums in Abu Dhabi that documents the life of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the nation. It is divided into a few traditional buildings. One of the defining features at the entrance is the two vintage cars owned by Sheikh Zayed himself.
Once you enter the main building, you will find different rooms dedicated to the history of Abu Dhabi Police, Emirates Post or ADCO (Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Petroleum Operations Ltd). In the ADCO room, you will find a great timeline on the wall featuring dates of significant events that occurred in the company. In the Emirates Post room, you will come across a huge collection of decade-old envelops and stamps. As you move forward, you will see the Police room filled with different guns, radios and phones that Emirati men and women working in the police department had worn.
There is also the main room that showcases the prized possessions of the president. This includes his cars and the gifts he received from people throughout his life.
Timings, Contact of the Zayed Centre
- Location: 92, Al Quffal Street, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi
- Timings: Sun – Thurs: 7.30am to 2.30 pm, Fri & Sat: closed
- Contact: +971 2 665 9555
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre is undoubtedly one of the best museums in Abu Dhabi. Located in Saadiyat Cultural District, it has a gallery space that extends over 9,200 sq. m. There are many notable exhibits in Louvre including various precious artefacts such as Italian gold from 5th century BC, paintings by Magritte, Gauguin and Monet, works by Picasso, Van Gogh’s self-portrait and much more. Designed by reputed artist architect Jean Nouvel, it also has a falaj-inspired water system running through it, making it an ideal place to take a stroll.
A sister concern of the iconic Louvre in Paris, this museum in Abu Dhabi is known for its impressive collection of arts and crafts. There are periodic special events organised by the management to increase awareness among the public and showcase local talent. It’s also one of the most Instagrammable places in Abu Dhabi, with a stunning facade and exciting architectural elements.
For people aged between 13 and 22, the ticket price of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi is AED 30, while general entry tickets are priced at AED 60.
Louvre Abu Dhabi timings and contact
- Location: Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi
- Timings: Tue – Sun: 10:00 am – 08:00 pm
- Contact: +971 600 565566
Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr Al Hosn is one of the oldest buildings in Abu Dhabi that encapsulates the development of the city. Built in 1761 as a conical watchtower to guard the freshwater well in the city, it is located along the First Street, in the heart of Downtown Abu Dhabi. It is comprised of two major structures: the Outer Palace (1939-45) and the Inner Fort (constructed in 1795), which have been painted bright white now after the recent renovation. Referred to as The Park, Qasr Al Hosn also has a prayer area, restaurants and water features.
One of the most historic museums in Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn was the erstwhile seat of government, a consultative council and a national archive. During the reign of Sheikh Zayed’s brother, Sheikh Shakhbout bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Qasr Al Hosn was the royal seat and the home of the ruling family. In the museum there are several artefacts that belonged to Sheikh Shakhbout and Sheikh Zayed, giving visitors a unique glimpse into the life of the Abu Dhabi ruling family. Now converted into a museum, Qasr Al Hosn was reopened in December 2018 after being closed for several years.
You can explore four interrelated sections: Cultural Foundation, the House of Artisans, National Consultative Council building, and the newly-renovated Qasr Al Hosn Fort there. There is expected to be a Qasr Al Hosn festival too in the future.
General entry tickets to Qasr Al Hosn costs AED 30, while children get subsidised rates of AED 15.
Timings and contact information for Qasr al Hosn
- Location: Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, Abu Dhabi
- Timings: Sat – Thurs: 09:00 am to 07:00 pm, Fri: 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm
- Contact: +971 2 697 6400
Emirates National Auto Museum
Situated south of Abu Dhabi, Emirates National Auto Museum is filled with the belongings of HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family. It has a large collection of vintage cars, custom-made vehicles and convertibles that the Sheikh used to drive.
In addition to this, it also has an earth-shaped mobile home, a Mercedes monster truck and a crowd-pleasing home that resembles Jabba’s flying palace in an American space opera film, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Some of its collection has also been featured in the BBC’s highly rated programme Top Gear. If you are looking for a great place to stop on the way to and from Liwa, this car museum in Abu Dhabi can be your go-to destination.
You are required to pay AED 50 to enter the museum. Children under 10 can enter for free.
Timings for Emirates National Auto Museum
- Location: Hamim Road, Off E11, Al Dhafra
- Timings: Mon – Sun: 09:00 am to 05:00 pm
- Contact: +971 50 2792620
Manarat Al Saadiyat
Located near Saadiyat Island, Manarat Al Saadiyat is one of the best museums in Abu Dhabi that serves as the first art and cultural centre of Saadiyat Cultural District. It features an outdoor events terrace, three galleries, a 250-seat auditorium, a brasserie and cafe and an art and photography studio to host on-going activities for the community. It also has a sales centre and Fanr Restaurant, an internationally-acclaimed contemporary dining venue in the city that offers a fine spread of regional and international cuisine.
Designed to enlighten others, Manarat Al Saadiyat is an art destination that organises workshops in robotics, self-portraits, printmaking and figure drawing, productions, conferences, performances and exhibitions. You can enjoy various film screenings, yoga classes, sky-gazing and comedy nights there, or can buy products and books from its boutique retail store, Artyfact. Ideally located, it is the perfect place for those living near the rental apartments in Saadiyat Island as they can easily visit the museum whenever they want.
Manarat Al Saadiyat location and timings
- Location: Saadiyat Cultural District
- Timings: Mon – Sun: 09:00 am to 08:00 pm
- Contact: +9712 6575 800
Apart from the museums listed above, there are some other famous museums in Abu Dhabi too, such as Heritage Village which showcases the Bedouin lifestyle and heritage. It is the place that houses the old copies of Quran, weapons, traditional jewellery and a replica of Falaj irrigation system. Another place that holds significance in Abu Dhabi’s cultural space is Etihad Modern Art Gallery which boasts of organising various activities, such as exhibitions, art workshops, music events and poetry nights. It contains everything from personal artefacts, such as stamps, letters, pocket watches, eyeglasses, and rings to old passports. There are two upcoming museums in Abu Dhabi as well. These include the Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Both of these cultural sites are soon to open their gates for the public.
Want to know more about the UAE’s rich heritage? The newly opened Presidential Palace or Qasr Al Watan is a must visit, as it provides a unique insight into the more recent history of Abu Dhabi. You can also take a look at the historical sites in Abu Dhabi & Al Ain.
If you want to get more information about the museums in UAE, you can also read up on the best museums in Sharjah.