FOR THE SOUL

Qatar 2019 | RETAIL & LIFESTYLE | INTERVIEW

The National Museum will continue the cultural growth and development Qatar Museums has sparked in the country over the past decade.

Khalid Al Ibrahim

How will the opening of the National Museum of Qatar shape its cultural landscape?

The launch of the National Museum of Qatar is one of the most anticipated museum openings globally, and we are eager to welcome patrons from March 28, 2019. The National Museum of Qatar is envisioned to become a hub of learning for the public, students, and museum professionals. It will redefine the role of a cultural institution, providing the conditions for discovery to thrive through dedicated learning spaces for children, in-depth archival materials for museum professionals, and spaces for the public to gather and interact. Importantly, being situated in the heart of a public realm that is taking shape around a key civic quarter, it will connect some of Qatar's most cherished cultural institutions, including the Museum of Islamic Art and the Art Mill project. Together, these reflect the wider urban, civic, and cultural development of Qatar and its capital.

How was the architectural design of the National Museum of Qatar conceived?

The National Museum of Qatar is inspired by the crystalline architecture of the desert rose, which symbolizes the life of the Qatari people between the desert and the sea and the transformation the country has gone through in the recent past. At the heart of the new National Museum is the historic royal palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, a building of great significance to Qatar and its heritage and one that has embedded itself in the collective memory of our people. It has been painstakingly restored and preserved for future generations and will make up a key gallery space in the new National Museum.

To what extent has Qatar Museums' Artist in Residence program influenced Qatari artists?

Under the visionary guidance of Qatar Museums Chairperson, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums renovated Old Fire Station to create a residency program to support artists in Qatar and provide a platform for creative exchange. The Fire Station rapidly became the heart of Qatar's flourishing local art scene where young artists come to create and interact. Many of the artists who have gone through the program, approximately 20 every year, credit the opportunities afforded to them at the Fire Station to work with local and international peers with inspiring new approaches to creating art and expressing their creativity. Another key aim of the program is to become an interactive space not just for artists, but the community as a whole. The Fire Station has collaborated with local entities and organizations on a range of activities including workshops and collaborative projects designed to engage all those involved in the program as well as the wider community.

How do you work to promote arts and culture among the population living in Qatar?

Education is a pillar of our society, culture, and economy, and investing in education will ensure our continuous advancement. As such, we work to instill the importance of art and creativity in students from an early age and have worked closely with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to develop curriculum for schools across Qatar that includes a focus on art. We also work directly with teachers from across the country on what will work best for their students and in their classrooms and incorporate our world-class museum collections as tools in classroom learning. We see an impressive number of students walk through our doors on a daily basis as part of school trips. MIA alone welcomes over 150 students each day on average. Across the broader community, we seek to interact with all those who live in and visit Qatar as part of their everyday lives through everything from public art pieces installed around Qatar, to how we cross-promote our institutions and exhibitions across our museums and other properties, to supporting young artists on a grassroots level through programs like the Fire Station Artist in Residence.