The Oman Botanic Garden Sculpture at the Royal Academy


September 30 2021

The Oman Botanic Garden Sculpture at the Royal Academy

The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition 2021 is a welcome sign to many of us of a return to normality. On Wednesday morning I had the pleasure of walking around the Academy’s bustling rooms and admiring wall after wall of brightly coloured artwork. Amongst the many spectacular pieces was one which will be particularly interesting to Oman enthusiasts – a miniature model of the Oman Botanic Garden by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw.

The model titled Oman Botanic Garden – Botanic Physiology is unassuming at first, consisting of two glass cases each with a model of single tree growing in arid land, covered by a small section of roofing illustrating how the garden will eventually be encased in an air conditioned system. While the model’s understated appearance doesn’t quite represent the excitement of this project, which will be the first of its kind in the region, with the help of a smart phone, visitors can unlock a whole new dimension to the piece through augmented reality.

By pointing the camera of their smart phones at different QR codes around the piece, visitors can view brightly coloured infographics showing the temperature and humidity of different parts of the gardens, see information about the obstacles faced in building a botanic garden in Oman's climate, and find out more about their various plans.

Screenshots from the AR technology to view how the Botanical Garden will look via a smartphone

The use of technology to bring this model alive is particularly suitable considering that the theme of this year’s summer exhibition is ‘reclaiming magic’. Abdallah Nauphal, the exhibition’s sponsor, explains that this theme speaks to a need for inspiration, innovation, and new ways of thinking in a post-pandemic world. That visitors to London can be transported to the foot of the Al Hajar Mountains with just the use of a smart phone, is certainly very innovative.

In fact, the whole of the Oman Botanic Garden project is an example of innovative thinking. Not only will it be the largest botanic garden in the Arabian Peninsula, but one of the largest in the world, covering over 420 hectares in the middle of a desert.

Other artwork from the exhibition

I would highly recommend a visit to this exhibit for all those in London, a walk around the brightly coloured gallery rooms, and experience of the virtual reality features on the Oman Botanic Garden model will be a day very well spent.

Read more about the Oman Botanic Garden project here:

Tickets to the Royal Academy of Art’s summer exhibition are £18 or £20 with a donation and can be bought upon arrival. The exhibition will run from now until January 2nd 2022. The model Oman Botanic Garden – Botanic Physiology is located in the corner of the Large Weston Room and guides will be around to help visitors access the QR codes.

Lydia Jaques

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