Qatar Museums Authority
Front view of "The QM Tower, Qatar Museums building in Doha, Qatar"
|Public transit access||QM Tower, Al Meena Street, Doha, Qatar PO Box 2777.|
The Qatar Museums (QM) is the lead body for museums in Qatar. Established in 2005 by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, former Emir of the State of Qatar, the QM aims to combine the resources of all museums in Qatar, providing a comprehensive organization for museum development and establishing an effective system for collecting, protecting, preserving and interpreting historic sites, monuments, and artifacts.
Chaired by Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the QM seeks to engage and connect diverse audiences – nationally and internationally – with a program that welcomes the world to Doha. During the years, the scope of activities of the QM widened and it soon became the managing body of an ambitious plan that aims to make Qatar a world class cultural destination, notably in modern and contemporary art.
The QM was the bid leader for Qatar's successful candidature to join the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2011. Qatar also had its first World Heritage site, Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, inscribed during the afternoon session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on 22 June 2013 in Phom Penh, Cambodia.
In addition to the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, the QM currently oversees MIA Park, QM Gallery at Katara, ALRIWAQ DOHA Exhibition Space, the Al Zubarah World Heritage Site Visitor Centre, and archaeological projects throughout Qatar, as well as the development of future projects and museums that will highlight its collections and areas of activity of interest to the Qatari people, including Orientalist art, photography, sports, children’s education, and wildlife conservation. Future projects include the opening of the Fire Station: Artists in Residence in 2014  and the launch of the highly anticipated National Museum of Qatar.
It is important to note that the scope of actions of the QM goes beyond developing museums and art galleries and restoring archaeological sites to other activities, such as organizing and sponsoring various events locally and internationally. Notable examples of these are: the organization of the Doha Tribeca Film Festivalin 2009, the installation of a Louise Bourgeois giant sculpture in the Qatar National Convention Center, the sponsoring of the World Cinema Foundation, the sponsoring of exhibitions abroad by international artists including Japanese artist Takashi Murakami's exhibition in Château de Versailles, and English artist and art collector Damien Hirst's exhibition at Tate Modern in 2012.
- 1 Objectives
- 2 Administration
- 3 Cultural policy
- 4 Cultural Diplomacy Program
- 5 Current and future museums
- 6 Galleries and exhibition spaces
- 7 Archaeology, architectural conservation and cultural tourism
- 8 Public art in Qatar
- 9 Publications
- 10 Education
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The QM's purpose as an organisation is to be a cultural instigator for the creation generation. The QM is committed to instigating Qatar’s future generation of arts, heritage and museum professionals. At its core is a commitment to nurturing artistic talent, creating opportunities and developing the skills to service Qatar’s emerging art economy. By means of a multi-faceted program and public art initiatives, QM seeks to push the boundaries of the traditional museum model, and create cultural experiences that spill out onto the streets and seek to involve the widest possible audiences. Through a strong emphasis on originating art and culture from within and fostering a spirit of national participation, QM is helping Qatar find its own distinctive voice in today’s global cultural debates.
The Qatar Museums is overseen by a board of trustees headed by Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, daughter of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and sister of the ruling Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Board of Trustees
The board includes as well the following members:
- Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani, vice chairman
- Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, board member
- Abdulla bin Khalifa Al-Attiya, board member
- Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Saud Al Thani, board member
- Mohamed Abdul Raheem Kafoud, board member
- Dominique de Villepin, board member and former French prime minister
- Marie-Josee Kravis, board member and a prominent economist
- Mansoor Al Khater, board member
Qatar’s National Vision 2030
The QM is one of the institutions that marks the Persian Gulf as an area of substantial development of public cultural institutions. It is also one of the organizations carrying out Qatar’s National Vision 2030 program which strives for the comprehensive development and the progress and prosperity of the Qatari people. Heritage-led developments play a key role in this program, for among its challenges is the wish to mold modernization around local culture and traditions by maintaining Arab and Islamic identity, while showing openness towards other cultures. Sheikha Al Mayassa's mission is for the QM to turn Qatar into a cultural powerhouse. The Economist reported that a trustee said: “Above all, we want the QM to be a ‘cultural instigator', a catalyst of arts projects worldwide”. The implementation of cultural policies by the QM has contributed to Doha been named the Arab Capital of Culture in 2010, an initiative taken by the Arab League under the UNESCO.
QM Member of UNESCO World Heritage Committee
The QM and in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Qatar’s permanent delegation at UNESCO was able in 2011 to lead Qatar to join 20 other nations that form the World Heritage Committee at UNESCO following the elections that took place at the 18th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention.
The candidature effort was announced in June 2011 during a presentation at the UNESCO of Qatar’s most prominent heritage sites and cultural institutions including: Al Zubarah Fort, Barzan Tower, Souq Waqif, Katara, Museum of Islamic Art, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, as well as the future National Museum of Qatar.
Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani, QM Vice Chairman, who currently represents Qatar in the meetings of the World Heritage Committee, said that this membership “reflects the rising role of Qatar in international organizations.” 
Cultural Diplomacy Program
Qatar Japan 2012
2012 marked 40 years of positive diplomatic relations between the state of Qatar and Japan. To celebrate this, a year-long series of cultural, sporting and business related activities were held under the banner of Qatar Japan 2012. The program put together for this year included exhibitions, events and activities in both countries such as Takashi Murakami’s exhibition “Ego” at ALRIWAQ DOHA exhibition space  and “Pearls: Jewels from the Sea” exhibition in Kobe, Japan. The highlight event of Qatar Japan 2012 was “Qatar Week: Ferjaan in Tokyo”  at Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, Japan, which was an occasion to foster understanding of Qatari culture and achievement, and offered opportunities for Japanese public to interact with Qatar through a variety of cultural activities.
Qatar UK 2013, Year of culture
Qatar UK 2013 is a project coordinated by the British Council and the Qatar Museums, in association with several partners, including leading arts and education institutions in both countries. As well as building new relationships and supporting existing partnerships in education, sport and science, the year aims to promote an awareness and appreciation of culture, achievements and heritage, and increase engagement between people and institutions in both countries in the spirit of innovation, openness and learning. The events and activities are taking place in both Qatar and the United Kingdom.
Qatar Brazil 2014
Qatar Brazil 2014 is a year-long cultural exchange programme dedicated to connecting people in the State of Qatar and the Federative Republic of Brazil through culture, community, and sport. Qatar Brazil 2014 was announced in Brasilia on December 18, 2013 during Qatar National Day celebrations at the Qatar embassy in Brasilia, this cultural program aims to strengthen bilateral relations and create lasting partnerships between Qatar and Brazil by working with partners and sponsors to bring exhibitions, festivals, competitions, and other cultural exchange activities to both countries. Qatar Brazil 2014 is held under the patronage of QM Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, in partnership with Qatar's Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage.. The year officially commenced on January 27, 2014 with a launch reception at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha
Current and future museums
The QM museums have received worldwide attention, particularly the Museum of Islamic art (MIA), putting themselves in line with other museum developments in the area such as Abu Dhabi’s (UAE) projected Guggenheim and Louvre.
Critics such as Hans-Ulrich Obrist, director of London’s Serpentine Gallery, have argued that Doha takes a different approach to museums from that of Abu Dhabi, aspiring to a new model that does not "copy existing models or replicate western museums, but acknowledges local difference". Martyn Best, director of Cultural Innovations said that "Qatar is the furthest ahead in thinking about how to develop a contemporary Middle Eastern model", searching for a new paradigm for the museums of the 21st century.
All the museums developed by the QM have included Islamic or Qatari elements either in their architectural design or in their overall concept. In this way its strives in the creation of its own brand trying not to be too commercial. This policy is a reflection of the Qatar Foundation's fourth pillar 'community development' which strives to help foster a progressive society while also enhancing cultural life, protecting Qatar’s heritage and addressing immediate social needs in the community. The QM has repeatedly chosen world-famous foreign architects to design its museums but they insist the architects sought inspiration in Middle Eastern architectural models.
Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)
Designed by noted architect I. M. Pei, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) is the flagship project of the QMA. The museum building, which opened on 1 December 2008, rises from the sea at the end of Doha's Corniche. Inspired by classic Islamic architecture, the building showcases "the most impressive" collection of artworks  and reflects the full vitality, complexity and diversity of the arts of the Islamic world. The MIA is now considered a world-class collecting institution, which preserves, studies, and exhibits Islamic art masterpieces. As a center for information, research and creativity, the museum aims to reach a wide global audience and serve as a hub for dialogue and cultural exchange.
Representing the full scope of Islamic art, MIA collection includes manuscripts, ceramics, metal, glass, ivory, textiles, wood and precious stones. Collected from three continents, including countries across the Middle East, and reaching as far as Spain and China, the Museum’s artworks date from the 7th through to the 19th century. The pieces represent the diversity of the Islamic world, and are of the highest quality.
The museum includes two floors of permanent exhibition galleries, one main temporary gallery, two outdoor courtyards overlooking the city’s skyline, an education center, a library, as well as a vast atrium area with a café and a gift shop.
Jodidio, author of the first publication on MIA describes it as the development that will "bridge the gap between tradition and modernity, highlighting the power of culture to transcend differences and cross artificial barriers" inscribing it in the Qatar Foundation's fourth pillar.
Adjacent to the Museum of Islamic Art is the MIA Park, a 280,000 square meter seafront, crescent-shaped park designed by the Pei Partnership Architects of New York City. It includes a sculpture plaza featuring a commissioned work by US Artist Richard Serra titled “7”, the artist’s first public work in the Middle East.
MIA Park includes three kilometers of lighted pedestrian pathways shaded by palm trees as well as two cafes and a kiosk. MIA Park is host to many public activities such as film screenings, sport events, musical events and public programs.
IDAM is Alain Ducasse's first restaurant in the Middle East. Its name means generosity, the care and attention the restaurant offers to its guests. Located on the top floor of the Museum of Islamic Art, IDAM Restaurant, designed by Philippe Starck, offers French Mediterranean cuisine with a twist of eclectic Arabian flavors.
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art is the first institution of its kind in the region offering an Arab perspective on modern and contemporary art. Mathaf, meaning "museum" in Arabic, opened in December 2010 in a 5,500-square-meter former school building in Doha's Education City. The school has been transformed by French architect Jean-François Bodin.
Mathaf has its origins in the wide-ranging activities of its founder and QM Vice Chairman, Sheikh Hassan Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al Thani. The museum’s collection of more than 6,000 artworks offers a rare comprehensive overview of modern Arab art, representing the major trends and sites of production spanning from the 1840s through the present. It is supported by a wealth of archival materials documenting Arab artists and their work.
Mathaf also presents exhibitions that situate the Arab world in relation to a larger art context. The museum offers programs that engage the local and international community, encourages research and scholarship, and contributes to the cultural landscape of the Persian Gulf region, the Middle East, the Arab Diaspora, and beyond.
National Museum of Qatar
The new under-construction National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) features an innovative design by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel that is inspired by the desert rose and grows organically around the original 20th century palace of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Jassim Al Thani. This important monument to Qatar’s past is now preserved as the heart of the new NMoQ. The relation between the new and old building is part of creating the bridge between the past and the present advocated by Sheikha Al Mayassa for it is the way to "define ourselves instead of forever being defined by others… celebrating our identity." 
The 430,000 sq ft museum is created by a series of interlocking discs that create cavities to protect visitors from the desert heat. Located on a 1.5 million-square-foot site at the south end of Doha’s Corniche, the NMoQ building will rise from the sea and will be connected to shore by two pedestrian bridges and a vehicular bridge.
A tour of the future museum will take visitors through a loop of galleries that address three major, interrelated themes. The galleries will be loosely arranged in chronological order, beginning with exhibitions on the natural history of the desert and the Persian Gulf, artifacts from Bedouin culture, historical exhibitions on the tribal wars and the establishment of the Qatari state, and finally the discovery of oil to the present. The displays and installations that explore these themes will integrate exciting and involving audiovisual displays with carefully selected treasures from the museum’s collections. These collections currently consist of approximately 8,000 objects and include archaeological artifacts, architectural elements, heritage household and traveling objects, textiles and costumes, jewelry, decorative arts, books and historical documents.
The museum's mission will be to celebrate the culture, heritage and future of Qatar and its people, embodying the pride and traditions of Qataris while offering international visitors a dialogue about rapid change and modernization.
The QM Youtube Chanel provides visuals and further information on the future museum.
3-2-1 Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum
A national and international center for sports history, heritage, and knowledge, the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum will start construction in the near future. Although the museum is not yet open to public, it aims to preserve, store, investigate and exhibit sports and sports objects. It will offer visitors an interactive experience through a wide range of sports exhibits, objects and activities, and will be constantly updated and designed to educate and entertain sports enthusiasts.
The Orientalist Museum has of one of the most significant collections of Orientalist art ever assembled. Home to a large collection of paintings, watercolors, sculptures, and drawings, it is the only institution of its kind in the world. Collectively, these works trace the history of Orientalism back to the early 16th century.
Through future exhibitions and programming, the Orientalist Museum aims to map one of the most influential periods in art history. In the process, it will deliver new appreciation and understanding of the relationship between East and West.
Although the Orientalist Museum is a museum without walls hence not currently open to the public, significant artworks are loaned to international museums for exhibitions on a regular basis. Work is also displayed in exhibitions organised by the Orientalist Museum in Doha and abroad.
Galleries and exhibition spaces
QM Gallery was founded in 2010 as a space for temporary exhibitions organized by Qatar Museums. Located in Katara (Cultural Village), Building 10, the gallery is a platform for the upcoming museums in Qatar to present their collections, projects, and visions. The gallery also hosts exhibitions of Qatari artists and organizes international exhibitions. The wide range of the exhibitions – such as photography, archaeology, art, sports, architecture and sculpture – makes the QM Gallery a place of encounter for a broad local and international audience.
ALRIWAQ DOHA Exhibition Space
Located next to the Museum of Islamic Art, ALRIWAQ DOHA is another temporary exhibition space by the Qatar Museums covering a total area of 5000 square-meter. Inaugurated in December 2010, ALRIWAQ DOHA provides a venue for local exhibitions by the QM museums and departments displaying their historic objects and collections, as well as shows by international artists organized by QM in line with its vision to be a cultural instigator seeking to stimulate debate and discussion.
Fire Station: Artists in Residence
The Fire Station: Artists in Residence program is hosted by Qatar Museums Public Arts Department. This program took the iconic old Civil Defense building in Doha and is transforming it into an open space for creativity. Designed by Qatari architect, Ibrahim Al Jaidah, the Fire Station will have 24 studios and a 700 sq. m gallery, housed in the old garage, to be used by artists participating in the program as well as the local community. It will also host a café, restaurant, bookshop, art supply shop, a cinema, and artist facilities.
This project “will allow for cultural dialogue and exchange between artists living in Qatar and the rest of the world.” The rolling nine-month program will be open to Qataris and other artists in the Persian Gulf region, as well as international artists based in Qatar.
Archaeology, architectural conservation and cultural tourism
Since its establishment, the QM has managed several archaeological and architectural conservation projects such as surveys, excavations, restoration, rehabilitation projects. These efforts helped uncover, document, protect and promote many archaeological sites, forts, towers, mosques and old buildings across Qatar preserving, therefore, the country's culture and heritage.
Al Zubarah: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
A historic coastal town that is now abandoned, Al Zubarah lies approximately 100 km north-west of Doha. Founded in ca. 1760 by the Banu Utba tribe from Kuwait, Al Zubarah's location in the central Persian Gulf predestined it to become the premier pearling and trading town in this region after the demise of Basra in Iraq. The success of Al Zubarah attracted the attention of other Persian Gulf powers, and after several attacks the town was eventually burned to the ground in 1811. It never fully recovered and was abandoned by the mid-20th century.
One of the largest and best preserved examples of an 18th-19th century traditional pearl fishing and merchant town in the Persian Gulf area, Al Zubarah Archaeological Site was recently inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List at the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee conference in the Kingdom of Cambodia.The site now includes a visitor centre within five rooms of Al Zubarah Fort that features rotating photo exhibitions telling the story of this site’s excavation and natural environment.
Covering an area of 60 hectares, Al Zubarah Archaeological Site is the first entry for a Qatari site on the international register and one of 911 natural and cultural properties worldwide.
Al Zubarah was first reported as an archaeological site by a Danish-led team of archaeologists in the 1950s. First excavations in Al Zubarah were undertaken in 1980 by the National Council of Culture, Arts and Heritage and between 2002-2005 by the QM. Since 2009 a joint project between Copenhagen University and QM, the so-called Qatar Islamic Archaeology and Heritage Project, has led to large-scale excavations and restorations, as well as to historical, anthropological and environmental research efforts in Al Zubarah and its hinterland.
Finds from the excavations that illustrate Al Zubarah's connections to global trade and seafaring such as porcelain and celadon from China and Japan, pottery from India, wood from eastern Africa, various pearling-related implements and even the images of Dhows incised into plaster walls of several houses are now part of the National Museum of Qatar's (NMoQ) permanent collection, and will be featured in the museum galleries and at Al Zubarah itself.
Public art in Qatar
The QM's Public Art department is responsible for creating an artist residency program for young local artists to help them develop their skills and horizons, organizing exhibitions featuring international artists and overseeing the installation of artwork by renowned artists in the public realm in Qatar. Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, QM Chairperson has said: “Through displaying various forms of art in public space, we aim to inspire local talent and establish an organic connection between art and the local community.”
Maman by Louise Bourgeois
Maman, a 30-foot-tall bronze-cast spider sculpture located at the Qatar National Convention Center of Qatar Foundation, is an ode from renowned French-American artist Louise Bourgeois to her mother who worked as a weaver in France. The sculpture is very popular to viewers around the world and has made appearances in several cities such as London, Paris, Geneva, Buenos Aires and St Petersburg.
7 by Richard Serra
Commissioned by the QM, Richard Serra's landmark 7, an 80-foot steel sculpture, is the tallest public art piece in Qatar and the tallest Richard Serra has ever conceived. As a focal point of MIA Park, the sculpture is also Serra’s first sculpture to be showcased in the Middle East. Constructed from seven steel plates arranged in a heptagonal shape, the work celebrates the scientific and spiritual significance of the number seven in Islamic culture.
Gandhi's Three Monkeys by Subodh Gupta
Three sculptures by Indian artist Subodh Gupta, Gandhi's Three Monkeys were installed at Katara Cultural Village. As homage to India's famous leader of peace, Mahatma Gandhi, Gupta uses steel and worn brass domestic utensils to form a soldier, a terrorist and a man wearing a gas mask to represent Gandhi's three monkeys “See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil”.
Perceval by Sarah Lucas
Perceval by British artist Sarah Lucas is a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Shire horse pulling a cart with two oversized squash installed at the Aspire Park in Doha. The subject matter reflects Lucas' fondness for re-examining everyday objects in unusual contexts.
eL Seed in Doha: Calligraffiti Project
QM Public Art Department and the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) commissioned French-Tunisian eL Seed to adorn four underground tunnels on Salwa Road with calligraffiti murals. Each of the 52 murals features unique themes inspired by anecdotes from Qatari culture and markers of Qatari life.
Healthy Living From The Start by Anne Geddes
The QM commissioned Anne Geddes to produce a series of 12 images capturing local athletes with newborn babies and young children. Located at the main hallway of the Women’s Hospital affiliated with the Hamad Medical Corporation, the images are part of an initiative by QM Chairperson to raise awareness on Diabetes 2 and the importance of engaging in sports activities at an early age.
The Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst
The Miraculous Journey (2005 – 2013) by British Artist Damien Hirst consists of 14 gigantic bronze sculptures that chart the gestation of a human being from conception to birth, ending with a statue of a 46-foot-tall anatomically correct baby boy. The installation is located in front of the Sidra Medical and Research Center, a new academic medical facility specialising in patient care for women and children in Qatar. The figures range in height from 4.8 metres to 10.7 metres, and weigh between 9 and 28 tonnes each.
The Qatar Museums releases regularly publications on arts, archaeology, Islamic history, and oriental studies; both in English and Arabic. Examples of these books are "Qatari-British relations 1914-1949" by Yousif Ibrahim Al Abdullah (1999),"From Cordoba to Samarqand" by Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir (2006), and "Traditional Architecture in Qatar" by Mohammad Jassim Al-Khulaifi (2003).
Qatar Museums entered into a three-way partnership with University College London and Qatar Foundation in 2011. University College London has established UCL Qatar at Education City, a center of excellence for the study of museology, conservation and archaeology. UCL provides master's degrees in these areas, as well as short specialist courses delivered for QM staff.
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- Takashi Murakami at the Château de Versailles
- Takashi Murakami at the Palace of Versailles
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- Damien Hirst at Tate Modern sponsored by the Qatar Museums Authority
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- Orientalist Museum
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- Gandhi’s Three Monkeys at Katara
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- Top aritist’s ‘calligraffiti’ mural brightens up Salwa Road tunnel in the Gulf Times, 29 January 2013
- Anne Geddes Exhibition at Hamad Hospital, 7 October 2013
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- Qatar Museums Authority - Publications