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National Museum of Saudi Arabia: Architecture And Exhibits


One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, the National Museum of Saudi Arabia acts as a remembrance of the ancient Arabic culture, customs, and traditions. Established in 1999, the museum is a part of the King Abdulaziz Historical Center. It is surrounded by Al-Wadi Park in the north and Al-Madi Park in the east. Both of them together constitute the eastern side of the National Museum. The museum houses some of the top artifacts and displays items from around the country and world.



The National Museum was a part of the Murabba Development Plan. It aimed to reconstruct and improve the area around the old Murabba Palace district. The project was planned to improve the Centennial Celebrations in Saudi Arabia. It is why the deadline was set for early 1999. That left 26 months to design and construct the museum from scratch. And this is how the National Museum was constructed in Riyadh.


The National Museum was designed under the leadership of a famous architect named Raymond Moriyama. The design itself was inspired by the structure and shades of the Red Sands found in Riyadh. The west facade along Murabba Square reflects an outline of the dunes, forming a crescent shape that points towards Makkah. It further opens into the Islamic history of the Arabian Peninsula. Many galleries form a Unification Drum displaying the current Saudi state. The last gallery highlights the two holy mosques and Hajj. Two additional galleries are reserved for special purposes.

General Information

Here are a few things you should know about the National Museum of Saudi Arabia before paying a visit:

Location: King Saud Road, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Opening hours: The Riyadh National Museum’s daily opening hours are from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. You cannot visit the museum after 4:00 pm on Fridays.

Entry fee: The Riyadh National Museum entrance fee is around SAR 10.

Nearby attractions: Some popular attractions near Riyadh National Museum include Masmak Citadel, Riyadh Zoo, Al Faisaliyah Center, Kingdom Center Tower, and Ad-Diriyah.

Facilities: The Riyadh National Museum has all the basic facilities, including separate, well-maintained restrooms for men and women. The entire building features air-conditioning, and the guests are greeted by the ever-helpful staff at the museum’s reception.

Suggested Read: Currency Museum Riyadh: Pre-Islamic, And Modern Currency Displays

Exhibitions at the National Museum of Saudi Arabia

The famous museum comprises eight halls, including the following :

1. Man and the Universe

Depicting the early days of human society, this exhibition focuses on the impact of the changes on Earth’s surface on their lives. The list of displays in this hall includes the following:

  • A large meteorite fragment that was found at Wabar Craters in the desert of Rub al Khali.
    Interactive displays explain the working of the solar system and the tectonic plates.
  • These displays also show the geology, geography, and development of flora and fauna found in the Arabian Peninsula.
  • One can also find an exhibit of a large skeleton of a Platybelodon and an Ichthyosaur.

Sections: 1
Location: Ground floor

2. The Arab Kingdoms

This exhibition hall represents 14 pre-Islamic Arabian Kingdoms that existed in the Arabian Peninsula from 5000 BC to 700 AD. The hall showcases many ancient artifacts and interactive storytelling displays. These kingdoms are as follows:

  • Obaid (5300 BC – 3600 BC)
  • Dilmun (2400 BC – 1700 BC)
  • Ad (4000 BC – 3500 BC)
  • Thamud (3500 BC – 3000 BC)
  • Midian (1700 BC – 1050 BC)
  • Qedar (10th Century BC)
  • Ghassanid (400 AD – 700 AD) and more

Sections: 1
Location: Ground floor

3. The Pre-Islamic Era

Popularly known as the Jahiliya Era Hall, it reflects the lifestyle of the typical Arab life before the arrival of the Islamic Prophet (PBUH). In simple words, it showcases the Arabian lifestyle before the advent of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. The exhibition highlights the various cities of this time, including Makkah, Jarash, Yathrib, Khaibar, etc. One also gets to know how various script and calligraphy evolved in the region.

Sections: 1
Location: Ground floor

4. Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Mission

This hall reveals a lot about Prophet Muhammad’s family, lineage, and birth. The exhibition also explains his migration from Makkah to Madinah. There is a wall where a large tree illustrates and represents the family members of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Visitors can use a bridge that connects to the next gallery. It symbolizes a cross-over from the time of ignorance to when Islam was revealed to the Prophet.

Sections: 1
Location: First floor

5. Islam and the Arabian Peninsula

This particular hall highlights the timeline of the Arabian Peninsula from the advent of Islam after the arrival of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) till World War I when the Ottoman Empire was dissolved.

Sections: 6
Location: First floor

6. First and the Second Saudi States

You can see the culture and the history of the two Saudi states from 1744 and 1824 in this exhibition. There is also a large model of Diriyah that is shown under the glass. It has been constructed in such a manner that it can be examined properly.

Sections: 2
Location: First floor

7. Unification of the Kingdom

This particular hall has been dedicated solely to King Abdul Aziz, explaining how he regained Riyadh and established his kingdom in 1902. It also reflects on the establishment of the Third Saudi State.

Sections: 1
Location: First floor

8. The Hajj and the Two Holy Mosques

One of the major exhibits in the National Museum Riyadh, this gallery features a large model of Makkah and its surroundings. The exhibition highlights the importance of Hajj, Masjid-Al-Haram, and Masjid-Al-Nabwi. It also shows the role of King Abdul Aziz in developing these structures.

Sections: 5
Location: First floor

Riyadh is one of the most popular cities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It offers you a wide variety of tourist attractions, such as the Riyadh National Museum. Built on Arabian history and culture, the museum is an ideal place to visit in Riyadh. Make sure you visit this historic structure as it will take you on a historical journey.

Suggested Read: 7 Museums In Riyadh To Learn The History Of Saudi Arabia

National Museum Of Saudi Arabia FAQs

When exactly was the National Museum of Saudi Arabia established?

The Riyadh National Museum was finished on the 23rd of January 1999.

How long is it going to take to go through the entire museum?

It will take an average tourist around 2 to 3 hours to go through the Riyadh National Museum.

When can families visit the National Museum of Saudi Arabia?

Visiting has been categorized into men, women, and families. Please visit the official website of the Museum to find out exactly when families can visit the place.

Can tourists pre-book museum tours?

Yes, it is recommended to make your booking of museum tours in advance to be able to avoid the over-crowded queues.

Pratyush Srivastava

I think, every human is a beautifully concealed epoch in the making with God to unravel it at the perfect time. Hence, synergizing with distinctive individuals in search of an interesting story is my favorite work as a writer and creator.

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