The Al Shuwaiheen area is one of the oldest areas in Sharjah, dating back to the end of the 18th century. It has been reconstructed and restored between 1993 and 1995, including five heritage buildings and a mosque. The newly constructed Sharjah Art Museum was inaugurated on 9 April 1997, during the 3rd Sharjah Biennial.
The Arts Square in the center interconnects the surrounding art spaces and serves as venue for artworks, projects, interventions, performances, workshops and events in the public space.
Bait Obaid Al Shamsi was built around 1845, and owned by the merchant Obaid Bin Hamad Al Shamsi. Around a large courtyard there are 13 rooms on the ground floor and 3 more on the upper floor. Like many heritage houses in the area, Bait Obaid Al Shamsi was inhabited until the 1970s. In 1997, the building complex was partially restored, and a another restoration took place in 2017-2018.
The building complex can be accessed through three entrances: from Corniche Street at the creek side, from the street in front of the Sharjah Art Museum, and through a narrow passage way from the Arts Square.
Bait Obaid Al Shamsi serves as a venue for contemporary art exhibitions and events, artist studios and residencies. Beginning with SB9 in 2009, it is used by the Sharjah Biennial as a temporary exhibition venue.
The Collections Building used to house the Orientalist painting collection of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Al Qasimi. Now the Sharjah Art Foundation coordinates the building as venue for temporary exhibitions, art events, and workshops.