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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Saudi Arabia’s RCU strengthens partnership on cross-cultural exchange with France’s Centre Pompidou
RIYADH: The Royal Commission for AlUla signed an agreement with the Paris-based Centre Pompidou to formalize, strengthen, and expand collaboration and knowledge sharing ahead of the establishment of a new contemporary art museum in AlUla in 2027.
Officially signed in Paris on Monday, the new executive program agreement builds on the long-time cultural partners’ shared principles of reciprocity and skills transfer and creates a strategic roadmap toward a more expansive and mutually beneficial working relationship in sectors related to the promotion and conservation of art, culture, science, and heritage, said the RCU in a statement on Tuesday.
The agreement builds on a memorandum of understanding signed between the RCU and Centre Pompidou in March to develop a world-class contemporary art museum in AlUla, with defined multi-year phases leading up to its public opening in 2027.
RCU has made significant progress in its plans to establish the new museum, including the announcement of Lina Gotmeh as architect tasked with creating a new cultural destination for the ancient Arab oasis city and the wider region in the northwest of Saudi Arabia.
Chosen for her track record of high-quality designs that merge outstanding levels of creativity with sustainability, most notably demonstrated in her acclaimed 2023 Serpentine Pavilion in London, the new museum will reflect Gotmeh’s responsible, considered, and conscious vision of a modern art landmark inspired by AlUla.
Carbon-efficient and merging sensitively into AlUla’s oasis, the museum will set new standards in sustainable design, showcasing how architecture can be a catalyst for urban regeneration and environmental renewal while offering opportunities for engagement with the community through a calendar of workshops, school programs, and more.
A hub for cultural and artistic expression, the museum will create a platform for critical thinking in contemporary art by offering a regional and international collection that highlights the artists’ overall production and unique research.
The museum is building its legacy through various initiatives, including art residencies, exhibitions, commissions, and publications.
The residencies have facilitated artistic production from artists such as Daniah Saleh (Saudi Arabia), Muhannad Shono (Saudi Arabia), and Sabine Mirlesse (France/US), while the landscape program commissions work from artists like Manal Al-Dowayan (Saudi Arabia), Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim (UAE), Superflex (Denmark), and Serge Attukwei Clottey (Ghana), among others.
The signing of the new executive program agreement is an opportunity to fine-tune and enhance the existing ecosystem of successful partnerships and cross-cultural cooperation between RCU and Centre Pompidou.
With a defined artistic and curatorial strategy, the program allows for the ongoing exchange, acquisition, loan, and display of artwork and artifacts between RCU and Centre Pompidou, as well as the promotion of various scientific and cultural initiatives based around the sharing of unique items from each partner’s collection.
Centre Pompidou’s experience and expertise in creating a comprehensive strategy to attract international visitors will support RCU’s goal of transforming AlUla into the world’s largest living museum and a global hub for cultural and heritage tourism.
Nora Al-Dabal, arts and creative planning director at the RCU, said: “The signing of the executive program agreement marks a new phase in our mutually beneficial partnership that is helping to define successful cross-cultural collaborations between AlUla and our colleagues at one of France’s leading institutions.
“By establishing a clear roadmap of growth that covers key areas of cooperation in diverse sectors related to culture, heritage, and art, this partnership will allow for the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and new ideas. It will give colleagues from Paris and AlUla the chance to work closely in important fields related to museology and to contribute to the development of AlUla’s new contemporary art museum. Both sides of this partnership have a great deal to offer and … learn from the other. I look forward to deepening RCU’s relationship with Centre Pompidou.”
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