The Museum of Islamic Art

Vantage Point

  • 21 Oct - 27 Oct, 2017
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Panorama

Dedicated to reflecting the full vitality, complexity and diversity of the arts of the Islamic world, the museum collects, preserves, studies and exhibits masterpieces spanning three continents from the 7th to the 19th century. The museum, a cultural icon for the Gulf region, opened its doors to the public on December 1, 2008.

The 376,740-sqft museum rises from the sea, in Doha Bay in the Arabian Gulf and houses a collection of international masterpieces in galleries encircling a soaring, five-storey-high domed atrium. With the largest collection of Islamic art in the world, collected from three continents, the museum is rich in treasure.

The collection is spread over three floors. The 1st and 2nd floors house the permanent collection, which ranges across exquisite textiles, ceramics, enamel work and glass, all showcased conceptually: a single motif, for example, is illustrated in neighbouring display cases in the weave of a carpet or a ceramic floor tile, or adapted in a piece of gold jewellery, allowing visitors to gain a sense of the homogeneity of Islamic art.

Designed by IM Pei, architect of the Louvre pyramid, the building is a masterpiece of light and space, drawing your eyes up to the dome, a clever modern take on the dome so prevalent in Islamic architecture.

Built of fine materials, such as cream-coloured Magny and Chamesson limestone from France, Jet Mist granite from the United States and stainless steel from Germany, as well as architectural concrete from Qatar, the museum is composed of a five-storey main building and a two-storey Education Wing, which are connected across a central courtyard. The main building’s angular volumes step back progressively, as they rise around a164-foot-high domed atrium, which is concealed from outside view by the walls of a central tower. At the top of the atrium, an oculus captures and reflects patterned light within the faceted dome. The desert sun plays a fundamental role, transforming the architecture into a play of light and shadows.

A glass curtain wall on the north side of the museum offers panoramic views of the Gulf and West Bay area of Doha from all five floors of the atrium. Ceilings are embellished with intricate coffered domes, and perforated metal chandeliers hang in the atrium. Two more lanterns, each 100 feet tall, mark the boat dock on the west side of the Museum, creating a grand entrance for guests arriving by boat.