Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art has been named the Middle East’s ‘Best Emerging Culture Destination’ at the 2015 Leading Culture Destinations Awards, held in London this month. Dubbed ‘The Oscars for Museums’, the prestigious awards scheme honours the world’s most visionary arts institutions and emerging cultural hotspots. 

The award ranked Mathaf as the number one on a shortlist that included the Oman National Museum, the Dubai Moving Image Museum and the Dubai Salsali Private Museum.

Winners were judged by a panel of 12 renowned cultural and creative figures from around the world and chaired by Gail Dexter Lord, Co-Founder of Lord Cultural Resources, a practice dedicated to creating cultural capital worldwide.

Abdullah Karroum, Director of Mathaf, said:

It is a great honour to receive recognition as the best emerging cultural destination at these prestigious awards, and a wonderful recognition for the Mathaf Team and Qatar Museums. Mathaf is an open stage; our solo and group exhibitions, featuring the greatest artists from the region and connecting them to the global art scenes, explores and celebrates modern and contemporary art. In addition, our exhibitions and education programs play an important role as a centre of art production, research and a resource for fostering art and creativity as part of daily life.’

The awards program, now in its second year, is described as “celebrating the vibrancy and vitality of museums and institutions around the world” and aims to shine a light on the museums that have made the most exceptional contributions to culture in the past year.  Leading Cultural Destinations annually nominates museums by region and across five distinct categories: Exhibitions and Programming; Architecture & Spatial Design; Eat & Drink; Shop; and Digital Experience. Doha’s iconic Museum of Islamic Art was also shortlisted in the “Architectural and Spatial Design” category.

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Mathaf is currently dedicating the ground floor of the museum to a new display of solo exhibitions featuring pioneering artists from the Museum’s Permanent Collection. Open from 13 October 2015 – 14 February 2016, the exhibition, entitled Focus: Works from the Mathaf Collection, features the work of five of the Arab world’s most ground-breaking and influential modern and contemporary artists: Faraj Daham (Qatar); Saloua Raouda Choucair (Lebanon); Inji Efflatoun (Egypt); Farid Belkahia (Morocco); and Abdulhalim Al-Radwi (Saudi Arabia). The collection reflects a number of important defining moments in Arab history and artistic innovations in the region.