Yesterday marked one of the most significant cultural occasions in the country’s history as the iconic new National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) opened its doors to the public for the first time. Crowds of delighted visitors streamed into the museum, with many staying for several hours to take in the multitude of experiences, sights and sounds on offer.
The reaction from the public clearly indicated that the many months of painstaking work and precise planning had been a huge success as visitors were hugely complimentary about the living experience represented across the museum’s 11 galleries full of movement, sound and colour.
On the opening day, Qatari and expat residents were able to immerse themselves in the museum’s unique, encompassing environments, each of which tells its part of the story of Qatar through a special combination of architectural space, music, poetry, oral histories, evocative aromas, archaeological and heritage objects, commissioned artworks, monumentally scaled art films, and more.
Many were overheard remarking how they planned to return to the museum almost immediately since the authentic content that has been developed is so rich and diverse that people discover something new with each visit.
The opening day also highlighted Qatar’s growing profile and status as a global hub of arts and culture with the latest inspiring and visionary talk that took place as part of Qatar Creates – a comprehensive programme of inaugural activities that draws together outstanding artists, thinkers and cultural leaders and the international community.
In what was an undoubted highlight of Qatar Creates to date, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums and the visionary behind the National Museum, was joined by an esteemed group of cultural heavyweights for an hour-long panel discussion in front of a packed audience that took place at the museum itself.
Moderated by Dr Julia Gonnella, Director of the Museum of Islamic Art, the panel featured directors of some of the world’s most prominent museums including Director General of the National Galleries of Scotland, Sir John Leighton; Director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Mikhail Piotrovsky; Director of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Laurence des Cars; and Adam Weinberg, Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Together they shared their views about the current, and possible future, roles of museums as cultural institutions and places of social interaction. They explored how museums have undergone considerable changes in past decades and have evolved from being depositories of treasured objects to becoming places of social engagement, learning and entertainment.
The group also discussed the many other roles that museums have adopted, and how they have become more present outside the walls of their buildings. Finally, they considered the features that make a museum relevant and forward-looking and asked what it is that makes a museum ‘great’ in the ever-shifting local and global contexts that clash, intertwine and inform each other.
HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani hosted a conversation with iconic designer Diane von Furstenberg on 29 March at the Qatar National Library. The talk touched on art, fashion and life, and addressed global developments in fashion and how the fashion industry has evolved over time.
The final panel in the programme took place at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Moderated by Qatar Museums’ Director of Exhibitions, Sheikha Reem Al Thani, it featured Sheikha Maryam Al-Thani from QM along with Qatari artists Amal Al Aathem and Yousef Ahmed, Egyptian artist Wael Shawky and Iraqi artists Ismail Azzam and Adel Abidin who discussed ‘Arab Art Today’.
Against a backdrop of growing recognition in recent decades for Arab artists, these artistic and cultural luminaries engaged in conversation about developments in the art scene of the MENA region and explored shifting trends, while reflecting on generational differences. They discussed the relationship between Arab and global art scenes, and what it means to be an Arab artist today.
Qatar Creates represents the largest concentration of artistic talent that the country has ever seen and present a unique opportunity for young artists and talented creatives to hear from and be inspired by some of the world’s most significant and influential cultural icons.
From 25-29 March, more than 60 pioneers and leaders in their respective fields shared insights, perspectives and ideas with large groups of audiences in locations that ranged from NMoQ, Qatar National Library, the Museum of Islamic Art, Katara and more. Participants have included photographers, architects, artists, critics, commentators, designers, film-makers and more.
Starting from March 28, admission to NMoQ, MIA and Mathaf will be charged at the entrance. General admission will be QAR50 for adults; QAR25 for students and free for children under 16, Culture Pass Plus and Culture Pass Family Members, and visitors with disabilities. Tickets will be free of charge for Qatari nationals and residents of the State of Qatar, with a valid Qatar ID. General admission tickets include exhibitions within the museum and are valid for three consecutive days from the date of the first admission. Museum Pass is QAR100 and permits admission to all museums and venues, valid for three consecutive days from the date of the first admission. For full terms and conditions, visit their website. Or for more information visit https://www.qm.org.qa/en/