In stark contrast to the UAE with its independent gallery scene, Qatar’s cultural renaissance owes its spark to its driving force – the Qatar Museums Authority.
With a number of art minded investors, the city is quickly molding itself into the cultural hub of the Gulf, with its astonishing collections of Arab and European art.
Listed below are the top 3 Art galleries/museums in the Gulf.
1) Museum of Islamic Art
Established in 2008, the Mathaf Al-Fann Al-Islami (Museum of Islamic Art) possesses one of the world’s most impressive collections of artworks crafted according to the traditional styles and techniques developed across the Middle East and Central Asia.
Finely decorated ceramic ware, glass and textile items, beautiful carpets, inlaid metalworks and antique manuscripts amazingly rich in details will bring visitors to the discovery of the fascinating but still relatively unknown Islamic art.
The museum is housed in an awe-inspiring, iconic building, designed by award-winning architect Ieoh Ming Pei. Truly beautiful both inside and out, the building is coated with limestone that reflects the sunlight throughout the day, and is located right at the end of a strip of land lying over the sea, thus offering a striking scenery and a spectacular view over the Persian Gulf.
2) Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim al Thani Museum
Arisen from the life-long devotion to arts and culture of Doha-born businessman Sheikh Faisal, the museum that carries his name displays a remarkable collection of 15,000 artworks passionately researched and gathered around the world over the last 50 years.
The museum’s possessions are grouped into four main collections: Islamic Art, which comprises further subgroups of arms, ceramics, textiles, metalworks, and others; Qatar Heritage, a section dedicated to local manufactures; Vehicles, including a few rare Ford T cars; and Coins and Currency, a special collection of coins and banknotes from the Islamic world.
The Sheikh Faisal Museum is located in Al Samriya – a mere half an hour away from Doha – in a historical, four-towered fort that deserves to be seen at least as much as the art.
3) VCU Qatar
The Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar is at the end of a line that originates in Richmond, USA, where the mother university is located. With art history, graphic design and interior design academic programmes, the VCUQatar has established itself as a centre of excellence for education and research in art and design – part of its pride is the university’s gallery, where the work of exciting international artists is presented to the public.
Among others, exhibitions showcased the work of Moroccan photographer Hassan Hajjaj, who mounts his colourful studio portraits in frames that are as meaningful and visually upbeat as the main images; Colombian Mariana Heilmann, an artist investigating microscopic shapes and the repetitions of patterns across a varied range of media; and Egyptian Fathi Hassan, best known for his typographical experimentations of ancient languages.