Description: Kuwait's first museum was the residence of Sheikh Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah. The archaeological discoveries at Failaka created a need for a place to house these important finds. A department of Antiquity and Museums was also set up. The department bought the former home of the Al Badr family in Kuwait City and turned it into the first national museum while waiting to build a museum fit to house the discoveries made in Kuwait.
Located in Kuwait City on the Arabian Gulf Street between the Seif Palace and the National Assembly (Parliament), the Kuwait National Museum was planned by Michel Ecochard. Though the architectural project and the plans of the museum were ready in 1960, actual construction started only in 1981. It was on February 23, 1983 that two of the four buildings were inaugurated; the planetarium was opened on February 16, 1986.
The museum was once a treasure trove for the Dar Al-Athar al-Islamiyah, the Al-Sabah collection of Islamic art, one of the most comprehensive in the world. Other buildings housed pearl diving relics, ethnographical artifacts and archaeological material from excavations on Failaka Island.
One of the four blocks of the museum houses all administrative wings, offices and an auditorium. The permanent exhibits are displayed in the other three blocks on two levels. Access to these levels is via a layout of ramps, a composition of double height space which connects the exhibition floors to create possibilities of extensive and multiple views over the large, exposed objects. The roofs of these buildings are formed by profiled concrete sections. An aluminium space frame covers the inner garden and part of the buildings to create a micro-climate.
The Iraqi invasion destroyed the museum almost completely. However, Kuwaiti resilience to the loot and plunder has emerged the winner: the museum is in the process of being restored and some exhibits are again open to the public, including parts of the Dar Al-Athar al-Islamiyah collection.