May 26, 2024

Restored Delma Museum Journeys into Abu Dhabi’s Maritime Legacy

 Restored Delma Museum Journeys into Abu Dhabi’s Maritime Legacy

As part of ongoing efforts to preserve and protect UAE cultural heritage, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has reopened Delma Museum following the completion of a major restoration initiative.

Located on Delma Island, 42km off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Delma Museum was built around the turn of the 20th century and was once the home and the base of commercial operations for the well-known pearl merchant Mohammed bin Jassim Al Muraikhi.

Visitors will find themselves immersed in a journey through time, guided by a collection of fascinating objects that narrate the story of the house, the pearl trade, and daily life on the island more than a century ago. Visitors will also be able to experience a majlis (reception room), a badkesh (windcatcher) – a system that captures the breeze and funnels it into the majlis – and several midbasah (date presses), where dates were stacked to get date molasses.

“Conserving and reopening Delma Museum is an important milestone in our cultural strategy for the emirate and part of our mission at DCT Abu Dhabi to preserve our cultural and historical heritage, fostering pride in our national identity and sharing Abu Dhabi’s story with the world,” said HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi. “The museum will be a valuable and engaging attraction for visitors, residents, and anyone who would like to learn more about Abu Dhabi’s rich and diverse history. It introduces previously unheard tales from our ancient past and shows how our ancestors lived through a collection of artefacts that delves into the rich maritime traditions and intangible heritage practices which have defined the emirate’s development.”

Delma Museum’s historic structure is of significant architectural importance as a prime example of the early coastal architecture of Abu Dhabi. From 2019 until 2021, DCT Abu Dhabi conducted regular repairs to maintain the museum while it was closed and instituted a major conservation programme to combat rising damp on the walls and floors, which is a perennial problem in buildings of this type and a major reason for the deterioration of historical buildings in the centre of the Delma community.

For the first time in Abu Dhabi, an innovative solution for this problem was implemented by successfully installing a waterproof membrane underneath the building’s floors and walls. All the building’s decorative elements were conserved using compatible mortar and plaster mixes while the surrounding landscape was redesigned. The discoveries made during the conservation project, such as traces of the original mud-mortar, also shed light on coastal building techniques.

DCT Abu Dhabi’s initiatives to safeguard and develop the rich cultural resources on Delma Island will continue in the coming years. A similar programme of conservation interventions will be undertaken to repair and restore the island’s historic mosques. Additionally, a site management plan and heritage masterplan for the Delma downtown conservation area and the island will be prepared by DCT Abu Dhabi in consultation with key stakeholders, to ensure the protection of Delma’s cultural heritage for future generations while stimulating sensitive and sustainable development. These efforts are part of Abu Dhabi’s long-term Culture and Identity Strategic Initiative.

Delma Museum is open to the public Saturday through Thursday from 11am to 6pm and Friday from 2pm to 6pm.

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