Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums, opened the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) to the public on March 28, welcoming the world to an unparalleled immersive experience housed in a new architectural masterpiece by Jean Nouvel.
The Museum’s winding, 1.5-kilometer gallery path is a journey through a series of 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. Together, the eleven permanent galleries take visitors from the formation of the Qatar peninsula millions of years ago to the nation’s exciting and diverse present. Giving voice to the nation’s rich heritage and culture and expressing the aspirations of its people, NMoQ will serve as a hub for discovery, creativity, and community engagement, providing diverse educational opportunities for Qatar and advancing the nation’s cultural vision on the global stage.
The spectacular 52,000-square-meter (560,000-square-foot) NMoQ embraces as its centerpiece the restored historic Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani (1880-1957), son of the founder of modern Qatar. A building that in former times was both the home of the Royal Family and the seat of government and was subsequently the site of the original National Museum, the historic Palace is now the culminating exhibit in the sweeping succession of gallery experiences.
Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, said, “The opening of the National Museum of Qatar is a source of immense pride for our country and an exceptional moment for engaging with people from around the world. The extraordinary schedule of inaugural activities draws together outstanding artists, architects, thinkers, and cultural leaders from Qatar and the international community, vividly demonstrating how the National Museum of Qatar will always be a dynamic resource in its programs as well as its exhibitions. Culture connects people, and with this new museum we believe we have created an exceptional platform for dialogue.”
Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim Al Thani, Director of the National Museum of Qatar, said, “After more than a decade of planning, we are deeply gratified to welcome the people of Qatar and our international visitors to this exciting, multi-layered, experiential museum. From the start, Qatar Museums and the National Museum team knew that we wanted to create a living experience for our people—a museum with a heart. We have created galleries full of movement, sound, and color in order to engage our public fully, with their senses and emotions as well as their intellects, and have assembled creative and authentic content that is so rich that people will discover something new with each visit. It is now time for the discoveries to begin.”
In designing the building that makes these experiences possible, Jean Nouvel drew inspiration from the desert rose, a flower-like formation that occurs naturally in the Gulf region when minerals crystallize in the crumbly soil just below the surface of a shallow salt basin. Described by Nouvel as “the first architectural structure that nature itself creates,” the desert rose became the model for the Museum’s complex structure of large interlocking disks of different diameters and curvatures—some vertical and constituting supports, others horizontal and resting on other disks—which surround the historic Palace like a necklace. A central court, the Baraha, sits within the ring of galleries and serves as a gathering space for outdoor cultural events. On the outside, the Museum’s sand-colored concrete harmonizes with the desert environment, so that the building appears to grow out of the ground and be one with it. Inside, the structure of interlocking disks continues, creating an extraordinary variety of irregularly shaped volumes.
Jean Nouvel said, “To imagine a desert rose as a basis for the design was a very advanced idea, even a utopian one. To construct a building with great curved disks, intersections, and cantilevered angles—the kind of shapes made by a desert rose—we had to meet enormous technical challenges. This building is at the cutting edge of technology, like Qatar itself. As a result, it is a total object: an experience that is at once architectural, spatial, and sensory, with spaces inside that, exist nowhere else.”
The cantilevered disks, which provide natural shade, are among the elements of the design that have enabled NMoQ to become the first museum to receive both LEED Gold certification and a four-star sustainability rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System.
The National Museum of Qatar will be officially inaugurated by His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in an opening celebration attended by heads of state, dignitaries, and museum leaders from around the world on the evening of 27 March 2019.
Opening weekend hours: 10 am to 9 pm Thursday; 1:30 to 7:00 pm Friday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Saturday.
Museum admission: Starting from March 28, admission to NMoQ, MIA, and Mathaf will be charged at the entrance. General admission will be QAR 50 for adults; QAR 25 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, as well as 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 QAR 100 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 https://www.qm.org.qa/en/ticketing-terms-conditions.