Bahrain National Museum

Since I landed I was looking for things that Caleb and I could do or that I could entice a friend to join me in doing. Caleb had a Saturday off and we got a ride to the Bahrain National Museum to look at their Dolls of Japan exhibit. It was a nice surprise to see there was an Investing in Culture exhibit and that permanent exhibits had been updated in an attempt to keep the attention of the younger crowd after we paid our 1.005 BD entry fee.

Since we left, Bahrain has introduced a VAT (value-added tax) mostly aimed at expats to help with the government decreasing the subsidies from oil revenues that have historically been spent on Bahrainis to pay their rent, bills, and meat costs. I can understand why the locals would be upset after having been given handouts for so long when the government started asking for 5% on taxable items… back to the museum.

We follow the numbered panels in the foyer to read about the beginning of Bahrain and the construction of the museum and its effects on the country and the region as a collection of a history that has since been built over and expanded to hold more shopping malls, mosques, and three-story villas on what little public beach there used to be. Bahrain is definitely investing in its new sense of culture and building it high.

Bahrain used to be more traditional but even now there is a movement to upgrade the Manama Souk with Wi-Fi so that cell phones will be able to show off its Instagram worthiness within seconds, especially with the facade, signage, and walkway improvements scheduled. Perhaps this will improve businesses in the area by modernizing the shopping experience to match with malls who offer discount apps and geo-tagging for loyalty programs.

I see how change can be difficult for more old-fashioned people used to doing things a certain way, such as when I had to adjust from a 30-foot-long corded phone (a trip and choke hazard with siblings) to a cordless phone that my step-dad could leave outside in the rain — twice — and they weren’t cheap back then. Bahrain may be small and covered in water bottles and cigarette butts, but that’s not stopping this country from trying to compete in the international market.

After detouring through the history of Bahrain we reach The Dolls of Japan: Shapes of Prayers, Embodiments of Love exhibit. We learn that what started out with such traditions as the Hina Matsuri (Girl’s Festival) led to the spread of this art to show the appreciation of time-honored costumes and craft styles with familiar themes of Noh and Kabuki to bring the love of dolls to more people than just little girls.

The festival is held annually in March to showcase the attendants in traditional court dress of the Heian period, 794 to 1185, named after the capital which is now modern Kyōto, at a time when Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism amongst other Chinese influences, upon poetry as well, were popular in Japan. The hour walk back to the house in Al Fateh was nice as we got to appreciate the new pavement (sidewalk) bricks that line many of the roads as Bahrain attempts to become more pedestrian-friendly.

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