The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University presents Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates, the first major touring exhibition of Emirati art. The exhibition showcases paintings, photographs, sculptures, video installations, and other media that emphasize core elements of life in the UAE. Emirati artists are a multifaceted group of men and women who have maintained a sense of national identity while also promoting their vision and aspirations for the future. Early proponents of contemporary art began creating exciting work over forty years ago, making the discipline a key aspect of modern UAE culture. Past Forward showcases works by several of these pioneers, who draw inspiration from the country’s rich history, diverse society, and unique environment. Immersed in a fast-moving, transitional space, Emirati artists still remain deeply connected to their roots. Past Forward leads visitors on a visual journey from artistic beginnings in the United Arab Emirates to the country’s evolution into a vibrant regional art center. It also provides an intimate view of life in the UAE that characterizes the nation’s past, present, and future. 

Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates is organized and circulated by Meridian International Center with support from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. Additional support for Past Forward is provided by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, and Etihad Airways. The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Curtis Sandberg, and Noor Al Suwaidi. The presentation of Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University is made possible by the Broad MSU’s general exhibitions fund.