Our series on Qatar continues with two important new cultural centers: Museum of Islamic Art and National Museum Qatar
Open since 2008, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) has been one of the first projects launched by Qatar Museums (QM), the leading national institution for art and culture. Designed by Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei – famous for the transparent pyramid of the Louvre –, MIA stands gloriously on the Doha Corniche, with panoramic views of the city’s waterfront. The museum exhibits collections of Islamic art with works made and collected from the seventh to the twentieth century.
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The program of exhibitions of the Museum of Islamic Art shows the heritage of the Islamic world and features educational activities for schools and families, making the museum a vital part of the community, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. On the occasion of the FIFA World Cup 2022, the museum reopened after a year of works. The renovation upgraded the facilities, restoring the exhibition galleries designed by Wilmotte & Associés in 2008 and 2022.
In addition to the Museum of Islamic Art, the district includes the MIA Park and the National Museum of Qatar. Moreover, in 2030 it will be joined by the Art Mill Museum, designed by Elemental studio, headed by Alejandro Aravena.
National Museum Qatar
The monumental structure of the National Museum Qatar is the result of different geometries, reminiscent of a desert rose. As explained by Jean Nouvel, “The desert rose, a flower-like aggregate of mineral crystals occurring only in arid coastal regions, is the first architectural structure that nature itself creates, through wind, sea spray and sand acting together over millennia. It’s surprisingly complex and poetic.” The skin of the building is made of high-performance beige fiber cement, and the arrangement of the disks, whose diameters range from 14 to 87 meters, generates multiple projecting elements casting shadows and plays of light, thanks to which it is possible to shelter from the sun.
Discover the National Museum of Qatar by Ateliers Jean Nouvel
The complex shapes inspired by the desert rose are used both as load-bearing elements and to divide the interior spaces into large rooms and carve out secret passages that guide the visitor through the path. It is precisely because of the presence of these interlocking inclined elements that the interior is articulated into a series of different spaces, whose form is revealed only after entering them.
The National Museum of Qatar tells the history of the country from its origins, marked by the movements of a nomadic population, to the present day. Outside, the complex is enhanced by a public park with an artificial lagoon designed by landscape architect Michel Desvignes, which is home to native species including eleven different species of date palms.