The Gulf nation has been investing heavily in an ambitious museum development plan: here’s what to keep an eye on.
From traditional Islamic craft and objects to modern and contemporary art: museums across Qatar have it all.
Art galleries and spaces are at the centre of Doha’s thriving cultural landscape, and most of the city’s architecture is inspired by its heritage and culture. Almost every museum has a story behind it, most of which are reflected in its construction and artwork behind its doors.
For years, Qatar has served as a thriving hub for artistic talents around the region. The title was established by providing space for creatives to investigate, develop, and comprehend art from different cultures and times.
Whether you are new to Qatar or just planning a visit, these four museums are a must for art enthusiasts.
National Museum of Qatar
The National Museum of Qatar is all about telling the story of Qatar, from the pre-historic to the modern era.
The museum was created by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, who drew inspiration from and recreated the desert rose, a naturally occurring crystal formation.
The state-of-the-art building, constructed around Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-original Thani’s palace and the country’s first administrative centre for 25 years, honours Qatar’s past while highlighting its present.
Its enormous size stretches over 430,500 square feet, providing a plethora of space for art pieces and exhibitions.
3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum
Interested in sports? The brand new 3-2-1 museum will take you through the history and heritage of sports in the world and Qatar.
One of the most cutting-edge sports museums in the world, the museum uses engaging storytelling techniques to illuminate the development of sports and the nation’s fervor for them.
It is packed with engaging displays, motivational artefacts, and activity spaces designed for a range of visitors. 3-2-1 explores the importance of sports, its history, evolution, and cultural significance in Qatar and beyond.
3-2-1, which aims to be the centre of knowledge and history of sports throughout the world, is part of the Olympic Museum Network, which at the moment consists of 22 Olympic museums throughout the world.
Museum of Islamic Art
Now, for the old gem.
MIA is a one of a kind museum that provides visitors the chance to see exceptional art pieces and a heritage library with a collection of 21,000 books, 2000 of which are rare editions in both Arabic and English.
The structure itself is an architectural marvel created by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei and is located on a specially constructed island next to the Corniche, Doha’s waterfront promenade.
The museum has five levels with both temporary and permanent exhibits, a gift store, a café, and the upscale IDAM restaurant, owned by renowned chef Alain Ducasse.
It hosts a range of cultural events throughout the year, including concerts by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, movie screenings, and community art and calligraphy lessons.
The verdant MIA park, which is close to the museum and has views of the Arabian Sea, is a popular place for outdoor yoga sessions, family picnics, as well as jogging and strolling.
Over a hundred stalls are also present at a weekend bazar during the cooler months, selling anything from food and beverages to handicrafts, clothing, and jewellery.
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
Visitors at Mathaf can experience the depth of modern Arab art while observing its evolving styles and genres.
Mathaf was founded in 2010 and offers a particularly Arab viewpoint on modern art. From the 1840s to the present, the museum’s permanent collection includes more than 9,000 pieces created by eminent Arab painters.
Reputable artists from the Arab Peninsula are also showcased, including those from Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Mathaf is located in a refurbished school building created by renowned French architect Jean-François Bodin within Education City.
The museum strives to start conversations through hosting exhibitions, educational programmes, as well as an annual competitions and student shows.
Children’s Museum of Qatar, ‘Dadu’
This year, authorities announced plans to open a museum dedicated to the children of Qatar. ‘Dadu’ a play on the babbling of babies like ‘dada’, means play in local Arabic.
Dadu is designed to enrich the lives of children and their families by providing spaces for learning through open-ended play, exploration and experimentation.
“ Our mission to nurture children’s creativity, imagination, and love of learning is too important to wait until we open our doors. We feel we are needed at this time to support families, and to connect people and ideas despite being physically apart,” Director of Dadu Essa Al Mannai said.
Coming soon.. Lusail museum!
Earlier this year, Qatar announced its plans to launch three new museums: Art Mill, the Qatar Auto Museum, and the Lusail Museum.’
The Lusail Museum will feature “the world’s most extensive collection of Orientalist paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures, rare texts, and applied arts.” Not only that, but the building will also have exhibition spaces, an auditorium, library, and educational hubs.
Chairperson of Qatar Museums, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, said that the newest additions are part of a “strategy for investing in the creative economy to drive the next phase of development of Qatar”.
Elemental, a Chilean architectural firm, will design the Art Mill’s design, while Herzog & de Meuron will design the Lusail Museum. The Qatar Auto Museum, on the other hand, will be designed by the architectural firm OMA, led by Rem Koolhaas.