Museums in Qatar
Qatar's first museum, the Qatar National Museum, was opened in 1975 as an institution to chart the nation's heritage and traditions. Alongside the opening of the museum was the creation of Qatar's first government department for culture.
Since that time, both the museum and the government department have undergone distinct changes. In 2019, the museum was replaced by the outstanding and awe-inspiring National Museum of Qatar. The culture department gradually expanded to become a stand-alone government agency in 1998, eventually becoming the Ministry of Culture and Sports in 2016.
One thing that hasn't changed is the desire, for both the new museum or the agency, to preserve, protect and promote Qatari Heritage and Culture.
In the 21st century, alongside the Ministry and the country's cultural goals for 2030 set out in their National Vision document, the nation is working towards safeguarding local culture and tradition and maintaining its Arab and Islamic identity. All this while continuing to modernise and open its arms to the international world. Helping to achieve this aim is the government entity, Qatar Museums and the non-profit organisation Qatar Foundation.
Founded in 1995, Qatar Foundation, amongst other things, endeavours to develop the community through education, support, and cultural preservation and advancement. Qatar Museums created a decade later, is responsible for managing many of Qatar's cultural and heritage sites, including the majority of its museums. Both organisations have been instrumental in establishing the bountiful collection of museums found in Qatar today.
Qatar's museums cover many aspects of the nation's culture - its Bedouin foundations and maritime past, its Islamic roots, its regional history, its traditions and values, its oil production era, its modernisation and its future. The museums house extensive collections of Qatari cultural objects, Islamic art and artefacts, and 20th and 21st century modern and contemporary art from the Arab World. Each museum built is unique and a blend of modern and Arabic styles. And, at each, the tale of Qatar is unfolded.
There are several major Museums in Qatar that you would not want to miss, and others are yet to be opened. Read on to find out more...
Museums in Qatar:
Arab Postal Stamp Museum
Located in Katara Cultural Village, a designated area for cultural activities, the Arab Stamp Museum is home to a stamp collection spanning almost 100 years. Opened in 2010, the museum houses stamps from twenty-two countries around the world. The collection documents Arab history and represents their culture and tradition through themes such as flora and fauna, architecture, sports, national costumes, leaders and national heroes. The oldest stamp in the collection is Jordanian and dates back to 1927.
- Location: Katara Cultural Village, Building 22 A, Katara.
- Cost: Free admission
- Contact: Katara Call Centre: 182
- Nearest Metro Station: Katara Metro Station (Red Line)
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Islamic Art
The Mathaf Museum is Qatar's leading light in modern and contemporary art. Housing art from the beginning of the modernist period through to today's contemporary era, the museum celebrates the creativity of Arab artists from across the globe.
Started privately by Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani, grandson of the former ruler of Qatar, the original collection of works was gifted for public display in 2004. The collection, made up of art conceived by Middle Eastern and other Arab artists and representing Arab history and culture, was, in 2010, permanently housed in the new Mathaf Museum.
Today, the museum provides gallery space for numerous permanent and temporary exhibitions, featuring work from solo artists and collectives, established artists and new talent. Paintings, sculptures and photographs are the most common media represented. The museum also offers space for creative inspiration, educational programmes, events and research.
- Location: Off Al Luqta Street, Education City, Ar-Rayyan.
- Contact: +974 4487 6662 / 4402 8855 / 4402 8830 / http://www.mathaf.org.qa/
- Nearest Metro Station: Education City Metro Station (Green Line)
NOTE: For guided tours, send your request to the following email: [email protected]
Located in the heart of Msheireb, Doha's regenerated downtown commercial district, the Msheireb Museums form an integral part of the area's new Heritage Quarter. Spread over four restored heritage buildings, the museum encapsulates Qatari history, culture and social development over the last century.
Opened in 2015, the four buildings, each set around its own traditional courtyard, chart Qatar's history through slavery and its abolition, the discover of oil, domestic life in the 20th century, and the past and present of the Msheireb area. Each house recounts the occupations or vision of those people who originally lived in them. The stories of the past are brought to life through original architecture and artefacts, as well as state-of-the-art interactive technologies and visual media.
The four houses, set adjacent or opposite one another, include:
- Bin Jalmood House – charting the history of slavery in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean and touching on the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking;
- Company House – recounting the history of the pioneering workers and their families who helped to transform Qatar into the global powerhouse it is today;
- Radwani House – highlighting the traditional lifestyle of Qatari families in the last century;
- Mohamed Bin Jassim House – chronicling the past and present journey of downtown Msheireb.
- Location: Msheireb Downtown Doha, Mohammed Bin Jassim Street, Doha.
Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)
Located on a manmade island off of the picture-perfect Doha Corniche, with views across the waters of the Gulf to the West Bay area of the city, the Museum of Islamic Art is architecturally magnificent. Designed to harmonise modernity with traditional Islamic architecture, the limestone building stores five stories into the sky in a series of geometric patterns.
The museum, opened in 2008, houses a collection of unparalleled Islamic art and artefacts from Africa, Asia and Europe dating from the 7th century to the 19th. The collection includes metalwork, woodwork, ceramics, glass, ivory, precious stones, carpets and textiles, as well as early Qurans and manuscripts. The pieces represent the full scope of Islamic art and the diversity found within Islamic heritage, providing a fascinating story of Islamic origins and development through the ages.
The museum, alongside its permanent collections, also displays a variety of exhibits based on Islamic art, history and culture from around the world. The museum also houses a library and education centre which hosts workshops, training and other events.
- Location: The Corniche, Doha.
- Contact: +974 4422 4444 / https://www.mia.org.qa/en/
- Nearest Metro Station: Souq Waqif Metro Station (Gold Line)
National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ)
The National Museum of Qatar sits on Doha’s Corniche, built of interlocking sand coloured disks; it is designed to resemble the desert rose crystal found in dry, desert regions. Opened in 2019 to critical acclaim, the museum is an immersive, educational journey through Qatar’s past, present and future.
Recounting Qatar’s history from more than 700 million years ago to the present day, the museum exhibits through three main chapters – Beginnings, Life in Qatar and The Modern History of Qatar. Visitors are taken on a journey through natural history, Bedouin and early settlers history, the establishment of the Qatari state, the discovery of oil, and modern-day life in Qatar.
Innovative audio-visual techniques, aromas, interactive technologies, unique displays of objects that illustrate important aspects of Qatari history and culture, and the shape and layout of the building itself, breathe life into the traditional concept of a Museum. The museum caters for all ages - children are also taken on an educational journey through play. Six pods in the museum and three play areas outside, specifically designed for families and kids, allow youngsters to explore the themes covered in the main galleries in a hands-on, interactive way.
The museum also provides access to the restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, originally built in the 1900s and home to one of modern Qatar’s early rulers.
- Location: Museum Park Street, Doha.
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum
The Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum, opened in 1998, is more treasure trove than a museum. Assembled from all over the world by an accumulator of art and artifacts, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, the museum has a truly impressive and unique collection.
Located in Al Samriya towards the centre of the Qatari peninsula, the museum is housed in an old, renovated fort. Designed primarily to preserve and promote Qatari heritage and culture, this privately-owned museum has an extensive assemblage of artefacts that chronicle the traditional Qatari way of life, and that of Islam including Islamic art, manuscripts and a Quran collection. However, the collection also has a veritable bounty of other fascinating objects vintage to modern, common to rare - a Syrian house brought from Damascus, a dinosaur skull and fossils, hospital equipment, samurai armour and an F1 racing car to name but a few.
The collection is split broadly into exhibits (Islamic Arts, Qatari Heritage and History, Vehicles and Coins and Stamps), which are spread across fifteen halls. Plans for the future include a dedicated vehicles museum and a museum devoted to carpets.
- Location: Al Samriya, Al-Shahaniya, off the Dukhan Highway
- Contact: +974 486 1444 / [email protected] / https://fbqmuseum.org/
- Nearest Metro Station*: Al Riffa Metro Station (Green Line)
Museums To Be Opened Soon...
3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum
The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympics and Sports Museum, housed at one of the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadiums - Khalifa International Stadium, is the first of its kind in the Middle East. The museum aims, through exhibits and interactive technologies, to educate, entertain and inspire its visitors. It will house galleries that cover the history of sports and the Olympic Games, from their ancient origins to modern-day, and the development of sports in Qatar, local and national. Visitors will be able to view medals, trophies and other sports memorabilia on display, including those from the Olympic Games and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, as well as participate in unique sports and sports-related activities. The museum will also house a reference library open to the public.
- Location: Al Waab St, Al Waab, Doha.
- Timings: The Museum is not currently open to the general public. It is expected to open in 2020 or 2021.
- Contact: +974 4452 5555 / http://www.321.qa/
Nearest Metro Station: Al Waab Metro Station (Gold Line)
Qatar Museums offer a host of benefits to members of their Culture Pass programme. To find out more and how to become a member, read our Culture Pass article.
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