In the 1970s, Jeddah’s mayor, Mohammed Said Farsi, initiated the ‘Jeddah Beautification Project’ and purchased more than 400 sculptures, including major works by international artists such as Henry Moore, Joan Miro and Alexander Calder, among others. The sculpture collection is one of the world’s most extensive focussed on public art, and no doubt the most diverse: the style of the sculptures ranges from traditional Arabic designs to the abstract and monumental.
Exposed to the harsh local climate, by the 2000s, some of the sculptures were beginning to show signs of deterioration. Therefore, Art Jameel, in collaboration with Jeddah Municipality, decided to not only restore some of the sculptures but also to increase their prominence by creating an open-air sculpture museum, showcasing 20 works in a seven square kilometre park along the middle Corniche in Jeddah, known locally as ‘Al Hamraa’.
Besides activities to promote Jeddah Sculpture Museum, Art Jameel is continuing the restoration of some of the remaining sculptures around the city, and on occasion, seeking to add new works, the latest being Maha Malluh’s Food for Thought ‘Abraj’ (2016).
Entrance to Jeddah Sculpture Museum is free and open to all. But the open-air museum is temporarily closed in support of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.