Independent contemporary art institution 'Art Jameel' recently opened its doors in Dubai amid much fanfare and applause from the local art community. Yes, the complex houses three impressive art galleries but it is also home to the Jameel Library, an open contemporary art research centre, that is the first of its kind in the region.
The specialised arts library grants free access to the public and is open seven days a week. It hopes to become home to students, artists, researchers, writers, professionals and those that simply want to explore and read.
Along with physical copies of numerous books from around the world, the library also boasts computers with access to the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC). The Jameel Library hopes to catalogue events and publications over the years and create a national archive for art in the region.
We spoke to library research co-ordinator Nadine Gandour to learn more about the library and their goals for the future.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you found yourself working in a library
I'm an artist and I'm really interested in local exhibition history and learning about artist-run groups, artist-run publications and figuring out how to collect this information. A lot of work that we do as a library relates to looking up publications and cataloguing them.
What is the mission of the Jameel Library?
Our mission is to support the Jameel library artist collection, programming and exhibitions, record and document local exhibition history and serve as a resource to local artists, researchers and writers.
How long did it take to set up the library's resources?
We’ve been working on the library for a while now. It’s a small community so its just degrees of connection. Most of our collection is either donated or crowdsourced and we ask peers, artists and researchers for recommendations.
Since the opening, a lot of people have come up to us and said they’d like to donate.
Was there anything you acquired that really piqued your interest?
Yes, there was a really interesting CD box set from a 1930's music conference in Cairo, it involved a lot of musicians from North Africa and other Arab countries - I'd never heard of that before.
How do you think art in the UAE has evolved over time?
Back in the day a lot of artists were involved in institution building. Now there's a movement towards artist-run groups instead of institution building, which is where we come in - we see ourselves as a library for artists.
How do you select topics or areas of focus for the library?
Our main focus is to be known as a contemporary arts library. We respond to conversations that are happening now, for example, at present Urbanism is a massive topic of interest and we get a lot of inquiries for that.
What is the future for art in the region?
More experimental works and crossovers will definitely happen and the library is going to attempt to catalogue all these events. So in ten years, people will be able to view the different artistic themes and their evolution in the region.
The Jameel Library is open to the public. No Membership fees or Registration required.
Opening Timings - Thur - Fri - 10AM -10PM, Rest of the week - 10AM - 8PM.
For more info visit artjameel.org