The Bahrain National Museum was our first "tourist" stop in Bahrain and I have to admit that I was disappointed. The building itself is impressive, but the exhibits and restrooms desperately need an update.
The main lobby has a newer exhibit, showcasing other sites of interest throughout Bahrain, just in case you haven't read your guide book! The huge satellite map on the floor is impressive and it's interesting to note how much the island has "expanded" since the photo was taken about ten years ago - just look outside across the harbor to see construction equipment dumping sand and rock into the sea to make more waterfront property.
The only exhibit of real interest was the three burial mounds, which have been transported to the museum and opened up. My three-year-old daughter was fascinated by the skeletal remains of a baby and small child and asked to see the exhibit three more times before we left. I also liked the section on Arabic culture and traditions associated with birth, weddings, childhood rites of passage, etc., but my husband and daughter were bored. I agree with another reviewer that the "people" (mannequins) are creepy.
Fortunately, the admission price (500 fils) is so reasonable that we didn't feel too cheated. The cafe was being remodeled, but we were told it should reopen in March 2013. We walked over to the Art Centre (or Bahrain National Theatre?) and had coffee there. While the modern cafe was open, it was still under construction and no food was available. Also, we visited on a Saturday morning and encountered dozens and dozens of noisy school children running through the halls on field trips.
I'd highly recommend visiting the Site Museum at Qal'at Al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort) instead. Also, the historic homes in Muharraq (look for the Shaikh Ebrahim Centre for Culture and Research along the Pearling Path) are just a few minutes-drive from the Bahrain National Museum and so much more interesting!
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