Looking through the window of our van, I spot a building the likes of which I have never seen before. It immediately reminds me of a desert rose, that beautiful crystal found in the desert, naturally shaped gypsum or baryte with grains of sand, solidified by evaporation in arid conditions. I have several at home. But seeing a building inspired on these natural formations is quite something else. I am in awe, especially when it turns out that the building is exactly where we are heading. We marvel at the building when we walk closer, and take our first pictures. The disks (or petals) are pointing in several directions, seeming haphazardly. In between some of them, I see windows. When we are closer, I see that the disks of course are not just plain, but have patterns in them. It loosely reminds me of the Sydney Opera House.
My last visit to Doha was years before, and I am sure this beauty was not there yet. Indeed, it turns out the museum was opened a little over three years before. I would have been happy to just walk around and admire this stunning building from all angles. It is big enough to keep you busy for a while, and the view changes with almost every step you take. But of course, we also want to see the exhibition of the museum and learn more about the history of Qatar. The building is actually built around the former palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani. Walking inside the museum takes you through the entire exhibition, and you exit on the other side. Light comes in through windows between the petals, and the shapes of the petals continues inside the building.
The exhibition is more or less in chronological order. We learn about the desert, about bedouins, about ancient cultures that existed here a long time ago, about the flora and fauna of the region. The exhibition is done extremely well. Video projections on the walls, giving an overwhelming visual impact on the visitor of people, sand, jewellery, animals, and more. There are showcases with objects, too - but much of the museum uses modern technology to educate. Then, there are life-sized models of animals, there are traditional wooden doors, there are costumes, and much more. In the last section, we learn about the discovery of oil and gas, and the enormous impact this has had on the lives of Qataris. At the end, and completely unrelated, we see the exhibition Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You by Pipilotti Rist. An awesome display of hundreds of lights that change colour. When we leave the building, we almost forgot the beauty of the architecture. We walk around the courtyard where we see an enormous flagpole with the Qatari flag. Our eyes stick to the shapes of this splendid architecture even as we are back in our minivan.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from National Museum Qatar (Qatar). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to National Museum Qatar. Read more about this site.