Action Impact Tells A Big Story Through Small Objects

Communication is at the heart of human development. It’s the foundation of nations and the relationships between people, governments and traders. When UAE’s leading collector of stamps and items from postal history, Mr Abdulla MT Khoory, made available his extensive collection for the first exhibition to take place at the instantly iconic Etihad Museum in Dubai, we knew we had a real challenge on our hands.
 
As President of the Emirates Philatelic Association, Mr Khoory is well known as a leading exponent of history through postal links. Working with Emirates Post, his collection was augmented with objects, artworks and 3D "Peppers Ghost" technology that could tell the long and surprising story of how the different territories that make up the UAE enjoyed close links long before unification in 1971.

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“We had a big story to tell,” says Tony Atkins, Project Director for Action Impact. “We wanted to take mostly small but beautiful objects, some of them seemingly mundane, and create a journey through time that was both evocative and surprising as well as educational. We also wanted to get across the enthusiasm that collectors like Mr Khoory have for their passion. It was a real challenge for us.”
 
Abdullah Mohammed Al Falasi, Director of Etihad Museum, is clear that the aim is to, “Develop national awareness and understanding of the UAE’s history, and encourage the exchange of academic knowledge between students, experts and all members of society. With this exhibition, the museum will provide an essential historical resource for younger UAE generations, residents and visitors.”

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The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the Emirate's dedicated entity for culture, arts and heritage, sponsored the special exhibition: ‘Emirates to the World: Postal History from 1909 to Unification.’ It was scheduled to open on 7 January 2017 and Action Impact had ten weeks to create a design and transform a large exhibition space with a very high ceiling into the perfect showcase for mostly small objects.
 
Tony Atkins explains that the difference in scale provided the starting point for the creative solution: “The building drove the narrative. It’s an iconic landmark, and the sheer volume of temporary exhibition space inspired us. So, we decided to suspend the showcase from the ceiling so they seemed to be floating in both the space, and in time. We lit them carefully, so that they appeared to be like jewels on a path from 1909 to 1971 and beyond. The sense of wonder would also help us to engage the audience and inspire them to see stamps, letters and other postal artefacts in a new way. Our task was both to tell a story and get a new generation to start collecting stamps.”

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Abdullah Al Falasi says, “The evolution of the UAE’s postal services reflects the story of the Nation’s growth, in which communication has played a vital role by strengthening the country’s internal discourse while also connecting it with the wider world. Dubai Culture applauds Mr. Khoory for preserving this precious part of UAE history, and is delighted to now be able to share it with visitors.”