'The Constellation' – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Atlas Obscura

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'The Constellation'

The Founder’s Memorial Park

This massive piece of artwork weighs more than 250 tons, and was designed as a tribute to the first president of the United Arab Emirates. 


The Founder’s Memorial Park in Abu Dhabi is a creative and artistic tribute to the nation’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The site, through images, film, and personal accounts, tells the story of the Sheikh and his national and international influences. 

Surrounding the memorial is the Heritage Garden, containing flora from across the deserts and coasts of the nation. At the heart of this space, amongst the indigenous Ghaf trees, is The Constellation, one of the world’s largest art installations.

This prodigious piece of public art is a 3D portrait made up of 1,327 geometric shapes attached to 1,110 cables. When lit at night, these suspended shapes resemble stars, forming a three-dimensional likeness of Zayed.  The design prompts viewers to use an “active perception” to make out the portrait of Zayed, similar to how we view astronomical constellations. 

Unveiled 100 years after his birth, artist and designer Ralph Helmick chose the astral theme to show Zayed as the “guiding star” of the United Arab Emirates and its people. The installation also commemorates Zayed’s lifelong love of nature.

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January 23, 2023

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