Michele Bambling was first invited to teach at Zayed University in 2011. Her task was to prepare young Emiratis to work as curators and curatorial assistants in museums like the Louvre Abu Dhabi that would soon be constructed in the UAE. Ten years later, she still calls Abu Dhabi home as a Visiting Associate Professor of Art and Art History at NYU Abu Dhabi. She was also recently named as Curator for the UAE Exhibition at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, which will take place in 2022.
For six years, Dr. Bambling served as Creative Director of the Lest We Forget Initiative, an innovative cultural project, part digital archive, part oral history that in many ways has defined her time in the UAE. In her years teaching and learning more about the country’s history, she realized something was missing – the actual images and pictures taken from Emiratis’ cameras.
Dr. Bambling channeled this curiosity into the Lest We Forget Initiative. Lest We Forget began in her university classroom where Bambling encouraged her students to bring their family albums to class in the hope of enabling students to familiarize with their own history through the photographic lenses of their ancestors.
As creative director for Lest We Forget, she connected with more than 500 participants, including Emiratis and expatriates, creating a series of photography art books and exhibits supported by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.
Dr. Bambling recounts the moments of real joy she and her students experienced while rediscovering UAE history together.