The city as a museum: Dubai Culture launches scheme to encourage art collecting

Run by Art Dubai, it will put private works on display throughout venues in the emirate

Dubai Culture has launched a new scheme to encourage artworks to be brought into the public view.

Rather than a national collection, the Dubai Collection will exhibit artworks connected to the UAE that are held privately.

Administered by Art Dubai, it invites patrons – both individual and corporate entities – to loan works for a set period of time. The works will remain in the possession of the patrons, and will be put on display at venues across the city or lent to curated exhibitions.

The Dubai Collection reaffirms “our commitment to helping artists, designers, and creatives of all types to actualise their aspirations in Dubai", said Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chair of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, in a statement.

“We are delighted with the announcement of the Dubai Collection, a project we have been working with Dubai Culture on," added Pablo del Val, artistic director of Art Dubai. "We look forward to helping build an art collection which will reflect Dubai’s innovative and dynamic spirit, generate long-term economic and social impact, as well as play a key role in supporting the city’s growing artistic community.”

Dubai Culture and Art Dubai have been working on the programme for more than a year, with further details on patrons and exhibition venues forthcoming. The aim is to make art – and the activity of collecting – more visible.

UAE galleries have long been dependent on an overseas market and a few key UAE buyers, despite the financial potential for a collector base in the Emirates. The investment in collecting should also have a ripple effect on artistic practice, allowing a more sustainable income stream for Dubai artists.

The scheme is part of Dubai Culture's renewed emphasis on building an infrastructure for the art scene. Last year, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed announced a spate of additions to the sector, including issuing cultural visas for art professionals and the establishment of a cultural district in Al Quoz. This past week she conducted meetings with key cultural stakeholders across the city, such as those at Dubai Design District and Alserkal Avenue, which widely circulated on social media.