The Museum of Islamic Art will reopen following an improvement project and an overhaul of its permanent collection galleries, Qatar Museums has announced.
The museum is one of the leading institutions dedicated to Islamic art and will welcome visitors from October 5, in time for the influx of tourists and football fans heading to Doha for the FIFA World Cup , which begins in November.
The redesign was done with the goal of making the museum a more accessible, engaging, and educational experience.
More than 1,000 objects will be on display at the museum for the first time, most of which are newly curated or acquired, alongside pieces for which the institution has long been known.
The collection galleries will include a comprehensive visitor trail, offering interpretive materials that will help contextualize the artworks as well as interactive exhibits and multi-sensory apps to make the museum more accessible to families and young visitors.
The galleries will be organized according to historical and cultural themes, time periods and geography. They will explore the great traditions of Islamic craftsmanship. The museum will also feature a new section on Islam in Southeast Asia and focus on cultural exchange within the Islamic world and beyond.
Baghdad: the pleasure of the eyes will be one of the first temporary exhibitions presented. Running from October 26 to February 25, the exhibition will explore and celebrate Baghdad’s legacy as the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled between 750 and 1258.
The exhibition will also highlight its legacy in modern times, when the city once again became an artistic, cultural and commercial hub in the 20th century. The exhibition will include 160 objects, including works on loan from major institutions around the world.
The reopening is part of the year-round cultural initiative called Qatar Creates. The museum, which opened in 2008, is built at one end of the Doha Corniche. This was the first intuition launched by Qatar Museums under the leadership of its president Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani.
The museum was designed by IM Pei, an internationally renowned architect and Pritzker Prize winner.
“The opening of the Museum of Islamic Art was a transformative moment for Qatar, marking the nation’s emergence as a new global cultural destination and paving the way for the establishment of other major museums and cultural institutions around the world. region,” said Sheikha Al Thani.
“We are delighted that locals have the chance to rediscover the museum, and we invite visitors who come to watch the World Cup matches to discover this essential expression of our heritage and culture.”
“I am honored to lead this extraordinary institution into its next chapter,” said Julia Gonnella, director of the museum. “This enhancement will benefit generations of visitors, providing an even more meaningful experience and allowing guests to explore the rich and vast history of the Islamic world as told through our unparalleled collection.”
What to expect from the redesign of the Museum of Islamic Arts?
The new visitor experience will begin on the ground floor with an introduction to the museum itself. A new space has been dedicated to the making of the museum, while the old majlis has been transformed into an immersive gallery allowing visitors to learn more about what inspired its architecture.
Some of the museum’s greatest artifacts will be housed in the first gallery on the second floor, including the Blue Quran, the Cavour Vasethe Varanasi necklace, the Ramayana manuscript of Hamida Banu Begum, and the Franchetti Tapestry.
This is followed by an exploration of the origins and spread of Islam, with galleries devoted to the Quran and its history, the Muslim community (umma), learning and education within Islamic cultures, and an examination of the spread of Islam in both the East and Africa. West.
Visitors will then follow the historical events that led to the establishment of the Caliphate, its eastward expansion into Iran and Central Asia, the development of courtly culture in Al-Andalus, and the survival of Islamic heritage in the post-Islamic Spain.
The new layout of the galleries will also illustrate the variety of materials used in Islamic art, including carpets and textiles, manuscripts, ceramics, wood, ivory, ironwork, stone and glass. The coins date from the early Islamic period through the 20th century, spanning Spain and North Africa to the Far East.
Highlights of these galleries include the first fragments of the Hijazi Quran, the sitara of the Holy Kaaba, the Moroccan arch, a copy of al-Sufi’s treatise on the fixed stars, the blue and white Abbasid bowl, the panel in Seljuk stucco, the Doha Hind and the post-Islamic Spanish ceiling.
Level three travels across the Islamic world from the Mediterranean in the west to the Indian Ocean in the east and beyond. The floor will explore the arts and societies from the 11th to the 19th century.
The main galleries focus on the three gunpowder empires: the Ottomans, who ruled from Turkey over much of the Arab lands; the Safavids in Iran; and the Mughals in South Asia. Carpets from the Safavid period, a collection of Mughal jewelry and an exhibition of Ottoman Iznik pottery and tiles are on display.
These are accompanied by exhibits of Islamic manuscripts, arms and armour, ending with galleries devoted to China and Southeast Asia, the latter subject not usually featured in the Islamic art museums.
Artifacts of Cirebon shipwrecks, jade ships, Indonesian gold jewelry and textiles are among the main exhibits. The third level also explores hospitality – showcasing a recently preserved 19th-century Syrian interior of a house in Damascus, which served as a multifunctional microcosm of Ottoman life.
To celebrate its reopening, Qatar Museums and Thames & Hudson have co-published a catalog dedicated to the history and collection of the Museum of Islamic Art.
Updated: August 30, 2022, 3:01 p.m.