Interview with Aitor Tárrega, ACCIONA Cultura ME Project Director

Aitor Tárrega: Social and technological revolutions are challenging the role of museums in our society.

ACCIONA Cultura ME Project Director: Qatari government is making efforts to expand the role of sports and culture at the same time. They want to show the world the greatest possible cultural offer.

Aitor Tárrega, ACCIONA Cultura ME Project Director said that his company shares the same principles of the Qatari vision, pointing to the role of ACCIONA and its great impact on the development of Qatari culture through its recent organization of the Lusail exhibition, which occupies a total area of 2,800 m2 and located in the heart of Doha at the Qatar Museums Gallery – Al Riwaq, In addition to the delivery The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, the world’s largest museum dedicated to Olympics and sports a few months ago.

Aitor Tárrega also explained: “We specialize in the creation of interactive content, that puts the public at the heart of it. Our teams are experts in the research, creation, and application of immersive narratives and interactive technologies, as well as in the development and implementation of both Design and Built projects”.

“ACCIONA Cultura was commissioned by Qatar Museums to carry out the design and museographic implementation of the ‘Experience Al Jazeera’ exhibition,” he added.

When we asked about the scope of work for ACCIONA Cultura project “Lusail Exhibition” in Qatar, he said:

We have been responsible for coordinating the works that include the technical development, project management, fit-out, graphics, media productions, showcases, lighting, prototyping and testing, exhibition fabrication, object mounting, maintenance and assembly, and dismantling of the exhibition.

Could you list down a few interesting points/facts/trivia about the Lusail Exhibition that might be of interest to the construction industry? i.e., temporary exhibitions? Educational programs? Size of the structure?

The ACCIONA Cultura works cover the 6 different spaces of the exhibition known as “Uncovering Orientalism”, “Cleopatra”, “Desert”, “Delacroix’s Gaze”, “Al-Hamidiyya Souq” and “Journeys”, highlighting the role of art, exchange, and ideas in the transformation of cultural representations from the pre-Islamic period to the present day.

The exhibition explores cultural interactions between the greater MENA (the Middle East North Africa) region and its peripheries, Europe, Central and East Africa, and Central, South, and East Asia, and showcases a world-class collection of Orientalist art, archaeological artifacts, and media from antiquity to the 21st century.

The 237 artifacts displayed represent a large collection of paintings on canvas, jewelry, tapestries, costumes, film props, books, manuscripts, photographs, decorated ceramics, glass, and metal. The artifacts are combined with almost 60 audiovisual and interactive resources that support the narrative and allow visitors to approach and interact with the objects.

Qatar, a nation of 3 million people, is hosting the 2022 World Cup very soon, the first in the Arab World, how is ACCIONA Cultura knowledge linked with the Qatar culture development in light of the current events?

During the last few years, they have kept in mind the kind of country they want to offer to the 1.2 million tourists they are expecting to receive during the championship. And it is not only about sports. They want to show the world the greatest possible cultural offer.

 The government of Qatar is making efforts to expand the role of sports and culture at the same time. We are very proud to have delivered, along with our local partner UCC as a Joint Venture, the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum.

And not only this one, as we have just delivered the technical development as well as musicographic implementation of the Lusail Museum: Tales of a Connected World exhibition for Qatar Museums. Finally, outstanding works such as the design, development, and execution of 150 media productions for the National Museum of Qatar; the museum development and implementation of Msheireb Museums, and the production of various temporary exhibitions for Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art and the Orientalist Museum.

Furthermore, we were commissioned by Qatar Museums to carry out the design and museographic implementation of the ‘Experience Al Jazeera’ exhibition, which is on view at the Fire Station in Doha. The exhibition spotlights 25 years of the Al Jazeera Media Network’s growth, from a single pioneering television channel to a global media phenomenon.

As part of the multinational ACCIONA business corporation, you have an extensive technical and financial capacity, along with an experienced in-house team of more than 200 professionals across 8 offices globally, so could you please tell us After the successful experience of ACCIONA Cultura developing some EXPO Pavilions during the last EXPO2020 in Dubai last year, how is building temporary structures different from permanent ones?

ACCIONA Cultura specialises in the design and museographic implementation of museums, exhibitions, expo pavilions, interiors, and cultural and brand experiences.

At Expo 2020 Dubai, we implemented 51 pavilions, covering a total area of 34,895 square meters. Furthermore, for 30 years, since the Seville 92 World Expo, we have delivered 71 pavilions for different countries and organizations at 9 Expos worldwide.

Working for temporary structures is not so different from working for permanent ones like museums. Thousands of people visit a pavilion during the Expo period, and this is usually a very short time. The quality and durability of materials and equipment, technological devices, as well as the mechanical interactive elements to be used are tested until we can ensure the best user experience. We are constantly investigating for new solutions to apply to our projects. We build mock-ups to test the exhibits and resources to guarantee that everything works properly before they are installed in the pavilions and the museums. In fact, some pavilions become permanent once Expos have closed.

What really makes the difference when you are planning a museum or an exhibition?

Our success results from our capacity to understand that an exhibition project is more than just the sum of its parts. The knowledge of the whole process is crucial to identify high-priority elements and milestones to meet the schedule. The process needs to be carried out always taking care of the Quality standards, the interrelations among the different disciplines, and the sensitivity in the value added by each Participant, the true protagonists of the exhibition.

As we approach 2030 and after going through many global crises, what challenges are facing the sector?

Social and technological revolutions are challenging the role of museums in our society. We can surely say that many young people would prefer a Netflix or a game console afternoon rather than visiting the traditional museum. That is why museums are reinventing the concept of their entity by understanding the potential of these changes to transform them for their own benefit. 

Museums, in an attempt to keep up to date and compete with other modern entertainment venues, are reshaping their approach, creating new, experience-driven exhibits that appeal to the demanding audience of today and tomorrow.

Beyond these challenges, all the mobility and forum limitations that have taken place during the Covid19 crisis have had a decisive impact on cultural consumption. In fact, experts consider that the new forms of access to culture (virtual visits, virtual conferences, online events…), together with the new models of enjoyment of cultural and museum heritage that make the most of the new and latest technologies, will remain even when it is fully back to normal. Thus, the economic impact that the pandemic has caused, has shown us at the same time the opportunities in the digital context that museums have taken advantage of and from which they continue to get the maximum benefit. This, in addition to being a challenge, is also an opportunity to reinvent it, to make museums more relocated, more accessible, and, of course, more attractive.

ACCIONA Cultura is a leading company that works in a multidisciplinary way to offer creative, technological, and sustainable solutions for cultural, corporate and leisure industries around the world.


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