Private view: museum of art

From the trailblazing to the bridge-building, private museums offer out of the ordinary art experiences around the world

For Dubai-based art patron Ramin Salsali collecting is a passion. He started with matchbox toy cars and stamps when he was 10 and moved onto art when, in the mid-80s, he left his native Tehran to study in Germany.

“I met artist Kiddy Citny who was painting the Berlin Wall and that was the start of my art collection,” remembers Salsali. “I not only admire the creation of an art work but I also believe that art is the peaceful and universal language - there is no border and no competition in the art world.”

In his year-old private museum in Dubai, Salsali has 700 artworks including painting, photography, video art, sculpture and installations by both Middle Eastern and international artists. “A museum of art is a modern temple for tranquility, love and inspiration,” says Salsali.

“It was my long-term vision to create a museum and offer a platform of understanding and communication between a part of the world which has been misunderstood and the West.”

Based on this vision he established the first private museum for contemporary art in the region. In line with the vision and spirit of the Salsali Private Museum (SPM), he is putting grander ambitions into practice with the forthcoming Dubai Museum of Contemporary Art (DMOCA) – the first public museum for contemporary art in the UAE – to be launched in 2014. “This project is unique and will engage each UAE national, resident and art lover in the process of art collecting,” comments Salsali. “The Salsali Private Museum will donate part of its collection to DMOCA and I hope many collectors will follow.”

Collecting art for the greater good was the ethos renowned American heiress Peggy Guggenheim lived by. Through her life-long love affair with the arts she championed some of the 20th century’s greatest movements and artists including Braque, Magritte and Pollock. After the World War II, she made her home in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni  in Venice, where, in 1949 she held an exhibition of sculptures in the garden, then, in 1951, opened her collection to the public. Today the Peggy Guggenheim Collection houses her collection of Cubist, abstract, and Surrealist art.

In rolling meadowland close to Dusseldorf, property magnate Karl-Heinrich Müller’s Insel Hombroich private museum shows art in parallel with nature. The collector displays his works by Brancusi, Cezanne, Matisse as well as pieces from ancient Persia and China in several artist-designed pavilions across the parkland. This gives visitors the experience of walking through a modern fairytale. With grass, trees, earth and sky part of the picture, Müller’s private project has given viewers a whole new angle on the art world.