Five things to know about The Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi

Your essential guide to The Constellation

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Last month, UAE royalty and dignitaries gathered in Abu Dhabi for the unveiling of The Founder’s Memorial, a permanent tribute commemorating the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Located at the heart of The Founder’s Memorial, the monumental artwork by public artist Ralph Helmick depicts a dynamic three-dimensional portrait of Sheikh Zayed, and can be experienced differently from multiple viewing points around the memorial and from other vantage points, offering a series of infinitely evolving personal encounters with his image.

The Constellation is made up of more than 1,300 geometric shapes suspended on more than 1,000 cables. At night, these shapes shine like stars, evoking the timelessness of Sheikh Zayed’s vision as a guiding light for the UAE people.

The ceremony took place in the presence of members of the UAE’s royal families, ministers, dignitaries and VIPs, who gathered at the site on the intersection of 1st and 2nd Street on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

Here are five things you might not have known about the stunning tribute.



1. The Constellation is one of the largest art installations of its kind

Housed within a monumental pavilion 30x30x30m in size, the artwork is formed by a combination of shapes suspended in space that create a series of evolving personal encounters with Sheikh Zayed's image. The Constellation is unique in its use of abstract portraiture on this scale.

2. More than 1,300 geometric shapes make up The Constellation

The artwork consists of a total of 1,327 geometric shapes suspended from 1,110 cables. These constitute five different types of regular, convex polyhedrons known as ‘platonic solids’, shapes which are renowned for their mathematical beauty and symmetry.



3. The Constellation weighs more than 250 tonnes

The artwork weighs 250 tons, while the steel structure of the roof supporting it weighs 190 tons. More than 5,745 counterweights hold the suspended shapes in place, which form a series of profiles of Sheikh Zayed when viewed from different perspectives both within the memorial’s landscape and from outside along the Corniche.

4. The Constellation celebrates Sheikh Zayed as a guiding star for the UAE

Illuminated by more than 2,000 lights, the suspended shapes of The Constellation shine like stars at night. This celestial display evokes the timelessness of Sheikh Zayed’s vision, which continues to offer the UAE nation a guiding light along a path of progress and prosperity.



5. Ralph Helmick created the artwork

The artwork was conceptualised and designed by public artist Ralph Helmick, whose practice explores human perception through large-scale public sculptures and installations that invite optical discovery. When conceptualising the artwork, Ralph let Sheikh Zayed’s legacy guide the design in terms of both scope and endurance, in order to engage a real connection with the man and the leader.

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