From 7 Billion Years Ago to the World Cup: Inside Qatar’s Best Museums

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Not only has Qatar been busy building football stadiums, but it has also been busy with a wide range of architectural strikes can access Museums in their well-documented quest to be recognized as the Arts Capital of the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar travel guide

Most of the major museums in the Gulf country have opened or refurbished over the past decade, with three additional arts institutions set to expand Qatar’s cultural offerings by 2030: Lusail Museum presents Qatar MuseumsOrientalist Group The Art Mill Museum focuses on contemporary art; and the Qatar Motor Museum, a celebration of the nation’s obsession with luxury cars.

Public art also continues to proliferate, with the installation “Dugong” by American sculptor Jeff Koons among 40 new public works to be installed across Doha in 2022.

Here are six of the best museums in Qatar to visit right now:

The Museum of Islamic Art houses a collection spanning 1,400 years.

Renowned Chinese-American architect IM Pei was reportedly persuaded out of retirement to design the building that will announce the Arts Center of Qatar’s intentions to the world when it opens in 2008.

A gleaming white dessert emerges from Doha Bay like a geometric wedding cake atop its artificial island, Doha – Islamic art museum (MIA) remains one of the most iconic buildings in the city.

Inside is what is believed to be the world’s largest collection of Islamic art, spanning 1,400 years and three continents.

Reopening in 2022 after an 18-month renovation, the Carbon-Free Museum offers visitors a pathway with expanded interpretive material that provides context previously lacking for its vast collection of manuscripts, ceramics, textiles, woodwork, jewelry, and other treasures.

Galleries dedicated to Islam in China and Southeast Asia are new. Mobile and kid-friendly resources make the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) more accessible for families, bolstered by free admission for children 16 and under. Free museum tours run daily, with topics ranging from calligraphy to carpets.

The Museum of Islamic Art also houses a library with more than 21,000 books on Islamic art, while French culinary legend Alain Ducasse houses a Mediterranean restaurant. IDAM It occupies the upper (fifth) floor. A pedestrian bridge connects the museum to the Museum of Islamic Art’s garden, home to some of its own fine public artwork.

Qatar National Museum designed by Jean Nouvel.

Featuring giant interlocking disks that mimic the complex crystal clusters known to “bloom” in the Qatari desert, Qatar National Museum (NMoQ) is one of the most popular buildings in the country. While it may seem like you would need all day to explore the Jean Nouvel-designed museum that occupies a vast area of ​​the historic center of Doha, its exhibition halls occupy only a small part of the structure.

NMoQ’s 11 interconnecting galleries opened in 2019, telling the story of Qatar from its geological formation some 7 billion years ago to the oil-rich country of 2.6 million people today. Films help bring many of its expertly curated exhibits to life, with audio guides designed for use in both the museum and the home.

The discovery of oil in 1939 that launched Qatar’s industrial development catapulted the exhibits into modern times, with perhaps the most controversial cover in the history of sport – revealing Qatar as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup – among the artifacts on display.

But the Qatar National Museum experience doesn’t end there, as the visitor’s path continues outside the restored original palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, who ruled from 1913 to 1949 as the third Emir of Qatar. There isn’t much to see inside the unassuming building, however the traditional building offers a rare glimpse into a bygone era.

It would be a mistake to go past the gift shop, where undulating wood surfaces that mimic the museum’s organic form give this surreal space a cave-like feel. The museum also contains Alain Ducasse’s restaurant, JeewanCamel carts are known to adorn the contemporary Qatari menu.

The historic heart of Doha was controversially razed to build the ultra-modern Msheireb downtown district in the early 2010s. Fortunately, four nearby heritage homes were rescued by bulldozers and now the house Msheireb Museumsone of the most interesting sights in Doha.

The largest of the four museums, Bin Jelmud House, also explores the most pressing themes: slavery and the exploitation of human labor. While Qatar’s role in both focuses largely on the past, the subversive space forces visitors from the Gulf and beyond to reckon with historical human rights abuses that have continued into the twenty-first century.

Next to it is the Company House, an ode to Qatar’s petroleum industry, where the side door leads to the smaller and more interesting Radwani House. Built in the 1920s, it has been furnished to provide a window into traditional Qatari family life during that era. On the other side of the road, the Mohammed Bin Jassim House focuses on the architectural heritage of the city of Doha, in particular the redevelopment of Msheireb.

A great excuse to explore Doha’s futuristic Education City district, The Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art It is home to the world’s largest collection of modern and contemporary Arab art.

Surrounded by a sculpture garden, the museum building is fairly undistinguished for a Qatari art institution. But the museum was not meant to be permanent, as French architect Jean-François Boudin was enlisted to transform a former school into a collection comprising a collection assembled over three decades by Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani, cousin of Qatar’s emir, Sheikh. Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Opened in 2010, the museum’s 12 galleries occupy two floors, with galleries 1-7 housing temporary exhibitions and 8-12 displaying a selection of works from the museum’s 9,000-strong permanent collection.

Major themes explored in the exhibitions include the aesthetics and politics of change and progress, from the development of the petroleum industry in the Middle East to the role of women in Arab society.

Colorful geometric works by Moroccan painter Mohamed El Melehi and Lebanese artist Gebran Tarazi (both in Gallery 11) lighten the mood, with the museum’s cavernous entrance marked by a massive screen on which video works are typically projected.

The Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum is well worth the half-hour taxi ride from downtown Doha.

Where do billionaires keep all their toys? If you were the head of one of the largest conglomerates in Qatar, you would build an enormous museum inspired by the fort in the middle of the Qatari desert and gently open it to the public.

The most unusual museum in Qatar, Mathaf – Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum (FBQ Museum) is Aladdin’s Cave of historical artifacts collected from four continents. Sometimes confusingly displayed alongside amateurish-looking artwork and random curiosities – the lack of explanatory information leaves much to the imagination here.

However, there are plenty of gems to discover, including an impressive collection of Qurans and a traditional Damascene house with exquisite tiles and latticework.

Visitors looking for Saddam Hussein’s room will find that the controversial exhibit is no longer open to the public. But classic car enthusiasts won’t be disappointed, as around 300 cars from the Sheikh’s formidable collection are now on display in a massive new stand.

While the significant investment in curation will serve the main museum well, the chance to peek into the vaults of one of the 3,000 richest people in the world makes it well worth the 30-minute Uber ride from downtown Doha.

It is not difficult to speculate about any other major international sporting event that Qatar seeks to host at the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. Opened in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the spiral building is surrounded by five rings that glow red, green, white, yellow and blue at night.

The museum’s seven galleries, linked to the Khalifa International Stadium, begin with the history of sport dating back to the eighth century BC, complete with a collection of interesting artefacts.

Sports fans are guaranteed to have fun at the Olympic Games Expo. The performances include a pair of boxing gloves worn (and signed) by Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) during the qualifying rounds for the US Olympic team in the lead-up to the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, where he was then an 18-beat heavyweight boxer. The year-old won the gold medal.

Then there’s the Athletes’ Hall, which charts the legacy of 90 athletes who made an indelible mark on modern sport – from household names like Usain Bolt and Pele to lesser-known legends like French windsurfer Antoine Albaut and Swiss Paralympic cyclist Heinz Frey.

Sportswear is recommended to make the most of the final section, the Activation Zone, where visitors are invited to don a 3-2-1 wristband and work their way through 18 interactive stations designed to measure “physical literacy.”

After completing challenges spread across six themed spaces, including “The Desert,” where an artificial dune 4×4 is designed to test upper-body strength, participants can swipe their wristband at a booth to collect a personal profile that identifies a key physicist. and mental traits.

This theme continues in the casual upscale restaurant upstairs coreswhere Michelin-starred English chef Tom Aikens has developed a healthy menu.

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