From 7 billion years ago to the World Cup: Inside Qatar’s best museums

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(CNN) — Qatar has not only been busy building football stadiums, but also a number of architecturally stunning and accessible museums in its well-documented quest to be recognized as the art capital of the Arabian Peninsula. Is. Qatar Travel Guide
While most of the Gulf countries’ major museums have been opened or renovated over the past decade, three additional art institutions will expand Qatar’s cultural offerings by 2030: Orientalist Museums of Qatar at the Lucille Museum; Exhibiting a collection of; The Art Mill Museum focuses on contemporary art; And the Qatar Auto Museum celebrates the country’s obsession with luxury cars.

Public art continues to proliferate, with American sculptor Jeff Koons’ towering “Dugong” among 40 new public works to be installed in Doha in 2022.

Check out the six best museums in Qatar now:

Museum of Islamic Art

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

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

Mary Magnum/The Image Bank Unreleased/Getty Images

Famed Chinese-American architect IM Pei was reportedly forced out of retirement to design the building that will announce Qatar’s arts hub intentions to the world after its 2008 opening.

A gleaming white cubist confection jutting out from Doha Bay like a geometric wedding cake atop its own man-made island, Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) is one of the city’s most recognizable buildings.

It is considered 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-neutral museum’s reimagining introduces a visitor trail with expanded interpretive material that explores its manuscripts, ceramics, textiles, woodwork, jewelry and Provides pre-existing context for a wide collection of other treasures.

Galleries dedicated to Islam in China and Southeast Asia are new. Mobile and kid-friendly resources make the MIA even more accessible to families, who enjoy free admission for children 16 and under. Free museum tours run daily, covering topics from calligraphy to carpets.

The MIA also houses a library with over 21,000 books on Islamic art, while French cuisine legend Alain Ducasse’s Mediterranean restaurant IDAM occupies the top (fifth) floor. A footbridge connects the museum to MIA Park, which is home to some of its own impressive public artworks.

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National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum of Qatar was designed by Jean Nouvel.

The National Museum of Qatar was designed by Jean Nouvel.

matpit73/Adobe Stock

Featuring giant interlocking discs mimicking the intricate crystal clusters known to “bloom” in the Qatari desert, the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) is one of the country’s most iconic buildings. While it may seem like you’d need all day to explore the Jean Nouvel-designed museum that spans a vast swath of Doha’s historic center, its exhibition halls only occupy a fraction of the structure.

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

The discovery of oil in 1939, which launched Qatar’s industrial development, led the show into the modern era, possibly the most controversial chapter in sports history — with Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Revealed at — in the specimens on display.

But the NMOQ experience doesn’t end there, visitors continue their journey to the restored original palace of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Jassim Al Thani, who ruled as the third Emir of Qatar from 1913-1949. There isn’t much to see inside the modest structure, yet the traditional building offers a rare glimpse into a bygone era.

It would be remiss to overlook the gift shop, where uneven wooden surfaces that mimic the museum’s organic form give this surreal space a cavernous feel. The museum also houses an Alain Ducasse restaurant, Jiwan, where the camel messengers are famous for their contemporary Qatari menu.

Mesherab Museum

Doha’s historic center was controversially demolished in the early 2010s to make way for the city’s ultramodern Meshireb downtown district. Fortunately, four neighboring heritage homes were saved from the bulldozers and are now one of Doha’s most interesting free attractions, the Msheireb Museum.

The largest of the four museums, Ben Jelmoud House, also explores the most compelling subject: slavery and the exploitation of human labor. Although Qatar’s role in both focuses largely on the past, the subversive space forces those from the Gulf and beyond to account for historical human rights abuses that continue into the 21st century.

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Next door is Company House, a landmark of Qatar’s petroleum industry, from which a side door leads to the smaller and more interesting Ridwani House. Built in the 1920s, it is presented to offer a window into traditional Qatari family life during that period. Across the street, the Mohammed bin Jassim House highlights Doha’s architectural heritage, particularly the reconstruction of the Meshirab.

Mataf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

A perfect excuse to explore the campus of Doha’s future academic city, Mataf: The Arab Museum of Modern Art is home to the world’s largest collection of modern and contemporary Arab art.

Surrounded by a sculpture garden, the museum building is somewhat unremarkable for a Qatari arts institution. But Mutaf was never meant to be permanent, French architect Jean-Francois Boudin was recruited to temporarily transform a former school into a three-decade-long collection by Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani. , was collected by Sheikh Hassan bin Muhammad bin Ali Al Thani, cousin of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh. Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

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

Key themes explored in the exhibition include aesthetics and the politics of change and development, from the development of the Middle East’s petroleum industry to the role of women in Arab society.

Lightening the mood are geometric works by the Moroccan artist Mohamed Malehi and the Lebanese artist Gibran Targi (both found in Gallery 11), along with a large screen at the museum’s cavernous entrance that usually plays video. Works are offered.

Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasim Al Thani Museum

The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasim Al Thani Museum is a half-hour taxi ride from the center of Doha.

The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasim Al Thani Museum is a half-hour taxi ride from the center of Doha.

Mustafa Abumons/AFP/Getty Images

Where do billionaires keep all their toys? If you’re the chairman of one of Qatar’s biggest conglomerates, you build a massive castle-inspired museum in the middle of the Qatari desert and open it up to the public.

Easily Qatar’s quirkiest museum, the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasim Al Thani Museum (FBQ Museum) is an Aladdin’s cave of historical artifacts collected from four continents. Sometimes they are depicted with vaguely amateurish-looking artwork and random curiosities — the lack of interpretive information here leaves much to the imagination.

Yet there are many gems to be discovered, including an impressive collection of Qurans and a traditional Damascus house with exquisite tiling and lattice work.

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Visitors looking for the Saddam Hussein Room will find that the controversial exhibit is no longer open to the public. But classic car enthusiasts will not be disappointed, with nearly 300 vehicles from Shaikh’s vast collection now on display in a huge new wing.

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

3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum

It’s not hard to guess what other major international sporting events Qatar is eyeing to host the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. Opened in the lead-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the spiral access building is surrounded by five circles that glow red, green, white, yellow and blue at night.

Attached to the Khalifa International Stadium, the museum’s seven galleries span the history of the game from the 8th century BC, complemented by an array of fascinating artifacts.

Sports fans are guaranteed to see the Olympic Gallery. The display includes a pair of boxing gloves worn (and signed) by Cassius Clay (later known as Muhammad Ali) in the qualifying round for the US Olympic team in the lead-up to the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome. , where the then 18-year-old heavyweight boxer won the gold medal.

Then there’s the Hall of Athletes, which charts the legacy of 90 athletes who have left an indelible mark on modern sport — from household names like Usain Bolt and Pele to French windsurfer Antoine Albeau and Swiss Paralympic cyclist Heinz Frei. Like lesser known legends.

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

After completing challenges spanning six themed locations, including “Desert,” where pushing a 4WD through a faux sand dune is designed to test upper-body strength, participants key physical identifiers personal. One can swipe their wrist at a kiosk to collect a profile. and mental attributes.

The theme continues to the top floor’s casual fine dining restaurant Naua, where Michelin-starred English chef Tom Eakins has created a healthy gourmet menu.


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