Qatar Museums (QM) announced that the historic palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, the father of modern Qatar, has been successful restored to its former glory.

The Old Palace, which has taken a total of three years to restore, will sit at the centre of the new National Museum of Qatar, designed by Atelier Jean Nouvel. Honouring the traditions of the past whilst embracing the future, the newly restored Palace will be a fitting central exhibit within the National Museum when it opens.

Commenting on the announcement, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of QM Board of Trustees, said:

I’m immensely proud of all that has been achieved in restoring the Palace so faithfully. This building is an incredible monument to our history and traditions whilst also highlighting our country’s rapid progress and development. When completed, the futuristic, iconic, world-class design of the National Museum will perfectly complement the Palace.’

OldPalace-1One of Doha’s most recognisable landmarks, the building serves as a monument to an historic way of life in Qatar. Restored and refurbished numerous times since it was built, the texture and fabric of the building itself tells a rich story about Qatar’s progress and development over the past 100 years.

The building is unique in its historical significance. Originally built during the early 20th century by Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al Thani, the Palace has served as both a family residence and the seat of government. In 1975, the former National Museum of Qatar also opened its doors in the restored palace, featuring a number of artefacts and exhibits celebrating the country’s history, heritage, culture and environment. In 1980 the building won the Agha Khan award for restoration and rehabilitation of Islamic architecture.

Numerous architectural features have been incorporated into the original design since the 1970s and provide important insights and lessons into the development of Qatari craftsmanship. Several additional elements have been added during this time to improve the structural integrity of the building overall.

The project was conceived and designed by QM as a contemporary restoration project, rather than a reconstruction. To fulfil this ambitious brief, QM engaged Ziegert | Roswag | Seiler Architekten Ingenieure, a specialist practice that focuses on the development of sustainable building solutions using natural building materials. All work was closely supervised and managed by specialists on-site and conducted in close collaboration with QM throughout.

The project required detailed and specialised knowledge of the historic building techniques and materials used in the construction of the Palace and a clear commitment to strengthen and develop local construction practices through the restoration process.

old palace

A team of local artisans was trained over the course of the restoration and worked closely with the project team. Specially developed training sessions included in-depth workshops on diverse subjects ranging from wood treatment, the restoration of ornaments and painted ceilings through to treatment of historic plaster surfaces.

Founded in 2005, QM connects the museums, cultural institutions and heritage sites in Qatar and creates the conditions for them to thrive and flourish. It centralizes resources and provides a comprehensive organisation for the development of museums and cultural projects, with a long term ambition of creating a strong and sustainable cultural infrastructure for Qatar. Under the patronage of HH The Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and led by its Chairperson, HH Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, QM is consolidating Qatar’s efforts to become a vibrant center for the arts, culture and education, in the Middle East and beyond.

QM oversees the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, and the Al Zubarah World Heritage Site Visitor Centre. The QM also manages the QM Gallery at Katara and the ALRIWAQ DOHA Exhibition Space. 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 and the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum.