Qatar has some amazing museums, from the groundbreaking Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art to the masterpiece-holding-masterpieces, the Museum of Islamic Art, with dozens of exhibits, artists and small galleries gracing our shores. But what Qatar hasn’t had, until now, is a place to call its own.
The National Museum will be just that: a showcase of all things Qatar, with collections of local and cultural artefacts specific to this country. While the other museums in the city celebrate the Arab world and the GCC as a whole, the National Museum will be dedicated to the art, history and culture of Qatar. Closed for the last several years, the original National Museum opened its doors in 1975 in the restored palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. The seat of government in the country for almost 25 years, it included a Museum of the State as well as a marine aquarium, and won the Agha Khan award for restoration of Arabic architecture in 1980. However, with stunning buildings from world renowned architects all over the region, the prize piece that will greet visitors as they land at the new airport had to be something special.
Enter Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel. He has designed a building inspired by the desert dunes and Bedouin culture that is not only stunning, but sustainable. The 430,000 sq ft museum is created by a series of interlocking discs that create cavities to protect visitors from the desert heat. Inspired by traditional enclosed marketplaces, caravanserai, it also includes a 1.2 million sq ft park to mimic natural Qatari landscapes, including native grasses and indigenous plants like date palms and pomegranate trees, as well as the national tree of Qatar, the Sidra. Using historic building practices, Nouvel plans to create thermal buffer zones: shady, naturally cool areas, with pleasant outdoor spaces and protecting the interior from high temperatures, all from locally sourced material.
Currently scheduled to open in December 2014, you can view special temporary exhibits at Katara as well as other community programmes before the doors open.
For more info, see www.qma.com.qa.