If you ever find yourself in Qatar, Doha, you should take time to see the Museum of Islamic Art. Art is really taking off in the region with many countries in the Middle east attempting to increase the role of art in their cultural agendas. In particular, Qatar has seen a boom in recent years with commentators noting that the country is experiencing a cultural revolution, displaying their rich heritage and history. A key focus has been to emphasise that there is more to the country than their abundance of oil. Their approach is certainly different, especially when compared to other states in the region such as Dubai which in my opinion looks nice but has an artificial and loud feeling despite holding some of the region’s most acclaimed art fairs.
The Museum of Islamic Art is located at one end of the Corniche, the waterfront that offers spectacular views of the city. The museum sits on its own manmade island, surrounded by a beautifully curated multi-purpose park. It is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and understandably so. The architecture alone is breath taking, especially its use of geometric patterns. The museum is clearly influenced by Islamic architecture both ancient and modern, designed by architect I. M. Pei, who stated that he drew inspiration from the ninth century Ibn Tulun Mosque of Cairo. The interior is incredibly impressive, using Islamic patterns on the ceiling, metallic chandeliers, panoramic views, and decorative historical artefacts
Regarding the exhibitions, there is so much to see. The permanent collection, holding pieces dating from as early as the 8th century, is made up from three continents; most notably Egypt, Turkey, India, Spain and China. There are four floors and they are divided by themes as opposed to region which makes it easier in noting differences and similarities between works produced by different countries. Each exhibition was breathtakingly curated and left you eager for more, especially Imperial Threads, adorned with Persian rugs.
I most definitely recommend going if you’re town, and p.s. entrance is free!