The Oman Across Ages Museum, located near the ancient city of Nizwa, opened its doors to the public for the first time in March 2023.
The 300,000-square-metre museum complex illustrates the history of Oman's civilisations and dynasties from prehistory to the present day, using state-of-the-art technology to take visitors on a journey through the country's history.
The project stems from Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said's (1940-2020) desire to create an interactive, high-tech cultural venue that would speak to Omani people, especially the younger generation, about their country, culture and heritage.
Cox Architecture worked closely with the Royal Court of Affairs (RCA) to realise that desire.
Inside the museum, visitors can take a journey through time starting with the geological formation of the territory and arriving at contemporary Oman.
The permanent exhibition is divided into two areas: The History Gallery and the Renaissance Gallery. The latter is dedicated to the period of economic, technological, political and social modernisation of the country, which began in the 1970s under His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said.
The architecture designed by the Australian firm Cox Architecture is inspired by the landscape surrounding the museum and was born from an ecological approach. Its walls cool the surrounding hot air thanks to the 130,000 square metres of Omani stone lining the walls of the museum, both inside and out, which comes from the governorates of A'Dhahirah and North Al Batinah. The stone waste material was used for the Museum's garden.
The building has a low profile on the eastern side, so that the interior is protected from direct sunlight in the morning. On the western side, the windows of the museum are set into sloping walls that prevent the impact of direct sunlight.
Artificial lighting is designed to make the different types of elements on display inside and to emphasise the architectural structure outside.
The large triangular sail that overlooks the swimming pool and characterises the building is homogeneously and completely illuminated thanks to the spot and super spot optics of the Platea Pro floodlight, which has been supplied with a special bronze-coloured finish, also tested to withstand harsh weather conditions. On the other hand, the other side of the triangular prism is illuminated with maximum homogeneity by the grazing light of the LInealuce recessed luminaires. The uniform effect is also perfectly appreciable along the entire length of the complex. The Linealuce's grazing light interacts with the voids and solids of the architecture and creates the play of light and shadow desired by the Australian architectural firm.
In the interior, the large halls and corridors are illuminated by a recessed light line, iN, a special product in terms of size and finish, which emphasises the length of the corridors and the width of the halls, together with another special structure housing Reflex recessed luminaires. On the floor, a light line derived from Linealuce in a continuous row, also special in terms of finish and satin-finish of the cover glass, provides a counterpoint.
An element that characterises the architecture is the presence of square openings, almost like dowels on the roofs of the rooms: on the outside they allow natural light to pass through, which is attenuated by the appropriate inclination of the faces of these openings, while on the inside they house light sources. In this case too, the special conformation of the space combined with the chosen luminaire, the Reflex recessed luminaire, which is adjustable and has a 25° optic, allows the light to be emitted, but prevents visitors from being dazzled by the light sources. In the auditorium, the general lighting is provided by Palco projectors, mounted on tracks and installed between the large wooden panels that make up the ceiling of the hall. Along the stairs, visitor safety is entrusted to Underscore, installed at the base of the step riser. On the walls, marking the transition between stone and wood, Linealuce mini 47 diffuses a halo of light to emphasise the architecture of this space.
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