Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar
Experience 14 centuries of great art in a few hours housed in a modern architectural masterpiece in The Museum of Islamic Art which has earned International recognition among the World's top cultural institutions, with its magnificent and imaginatively presented displays of the finest art and artefacts from across the Islamic World. No visitor can fail to be impressed by the quality and diversity of its collections.
Its cubistic pyramid form rises out of the creamy turquoise waters of the Arab Gulf, is just the tip of the iceberg of a truly dazzling array of engineering marvels currently going in and around Doha which are effortlessly blending yesterday and tomorrow, visitors can admire the puritanical Islamic absolute monarchy cherishing tradition while embracing modernity to become a Middle East Goliath.
During the start of construction of the museum by the Qatari officials, the veteran Chinese-American architect IM Pei, a genius now considered to be the master of modern architecture, was summoned out of retirement to design the museum. The Louvre's glass pyramid, Hong Kong's Bank of China tower, and the JFK Library in Boston are some of his notable structures. The result is an architectural gem in a new C-shaped peninsula which provides protection from the modest looking industrial buildings on the east and the Arab Gulf on the north with vast square blocks rising to a central tower to strike a chord with the Tunisian fortresses. Also oases on the water's edge and park of dunes behind the Museum offer shelter and a scenic backdrop.
The main building was designed in such a way that the angular volume recedes as they go up around a 5-story high domed atrium and the walls of a central tower masks this from outside view. The top of the atrium has an Oculus which hold and reflects patterned light within the faceted dome. The two floors of galleries that encircle the atrium have treasures from the permanent collection. Each chamber is serene and pleasantly cool, solace from the heat and hustle outside; the exhibition rooms feature specially designed cases and lighting to protect the brittle antiquities on display.
The museum's collection includes manuscripts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, textiles, coins, fabric, and glass collected since the late 1980s. It has an exceptional collection of rare gold and silver coins which gives a captivating insight into the lives of Muslim peoples from the 7th century. It has some of the highest-quality glasswork made from enameled glass, in its multicolored grandeur, to gleam and even simpler cut and molded pieces ever produced in the Islamic World. The collection has over 800 Quran manuscripts from the 7th century to the Ottoman works of the 19th century. Also, the metalwork collection represents the finest pieces of metal work of the Islamic World from the 7th century to modern times.
Located on a man-made island 60 meters from the shore on the south side of Doha's Corniche within walking distance from Souq Waqif. The museum is connected to the coast by a vehicular bridge and two pedestrian bridges. Opens Sunday to Wednesday from 10:00 to 17:00, Thursday from 12:00 to 17:00. Entrance is free.