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Qatar Museums

Must-Know Secrets Hiding in Qatar Museums

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The Desert Rose & Other Stories Hiding in Qatar Museums

The history of Qatar is rooted in the songs of the bedouins and the scent of the ocean. This country now bustling with skyscrapers and fast cars was once a harbor where fishermen gathered to find elusive pearls.  Qatar’s museums offer a fascinating journey through time and culture, from showcasing the country’s ancient heritage as a pearl-fishing harbor to interventions in the oil economy.

In the 1970s, Beatrice de Cardi, a British archaeologist started an expedition to unearth these old songs buried under the rising skyscrapers of Qatar.  She and her team uncovered some of the most iconic artifacts relevant to global history. Some of these were Al Da’asa where Ubaid potsherds from the Neolithic period were found.  These went on to become the earliest gems of the Qatar Museums.

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Let’s go through some fascinating stories hiding in these museums:

The Phenomenon of the Desert Rose at The National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum of Qatar (NMOQ) is a cultural institution that opened on March 28, 2019. It showcases exhibits on the natural history of the desert and the Persian Gulf, artifacts from Bedouin culture, historical exhibitions on the tribal wars, the establishment of the Qatari state, and finally the discovery of oil.

If you zoom out from these detailed collections, a poetic rendition comes into purview in the form of the delicate architecture of the National Museum of Qatar. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, this Museum is inspired by the “phenomenon of the desert rose”.

When the wind blows around the desert, the sand crystallizes into intricate petals giving the appearance of a delicate rose. The architectural structure of the NMOQ is an ode to this rare occurrence of the desert landscape. Each curved disc intersects and sits gently on top of each other, conjuring an ethereal imitation of this natural world.

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NMOQ Guide

The journey through the museum is a chronology of chapters beginning with the earliest history of geo-formations of Arabia, Life in Qatar, and modern-day Nation: Beginnings presented in eleven galleries.

Location

Museum Park Street, Doha

Hours

Saturday – Thursday: 9 am – 7 pm
Fridays: 1.30 pm – 7 pm

The Magical Blue Quran at the Museum of Islamic Art

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Perched on the Doha Corniche, the Museum of Islamic Art is a treasure trove of Islamic art and artefacts from across the globe. Designed by the legendary architect I.M Pei with heavy stone geometric forms, the architecture expresses a fresh medley of Western modernity and traditional Islamic styles. There are myriad collectibles spanning over 1400 years of Islamic history to engage with at this MIA. The collection ranges from ceramics to textiles. But the library of more than 800 manuscripts is the most intriguing. These include Qur’ans dating from the 7th century to the Ottoman works of the 19th century.

Among these is the folio of the rarest Abbasid Blue Qur’an, revered for its fine Kufic calligraphy that sparkles golden in an alluring blue parchment. The exact origins of this are debated in Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, Spain, or Sicily. The letters from pure gold leaves gitter when the light hits at the right angles, giving a divine impression. Even the suras have been intricately written using silver leaf or silver ink rosettes. The MIA also houses two of the five pages from the largest Quran in the World, the Timurid Baysunghur Qur’an.

MIA Guide

With its stunning architecture and world-class exhibitions, the MIA is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The reimagining of the collection galleries introduces a visitor trail, with interpretive materials to help understand the masterworks. You can use new mobile and child-friendly resources to make the museum more accessible I’d you’re travelling with families and younger guests. While exploring these world-renowned museum galleries, stop by at souvenir shops, restaurants, and more.

Location

Museum of Islamic Art
Off Al Corniche St Doha, Qatar

Hours

Saturday – Thursday: 9 am – 7 pm
Fridays: 1:30 pm – 7 pm

Enjoy a Paddling Adventure at MIA Park

9000 Stories of Resistance at the Arab Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

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The 3rd Pillar of Qatar’s archival gems is Mathaf, which means “Museum” in Arabic. The museum in Doha aims to promote dialogue and understanding of Arab art and its role in the global art scene. Including paintings, sculptures, prints, and installations, created by artists from various Arab countries. It was founded in 2010 by Qatar Museums under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

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This institution patronizes contemporary art and discourse among Arabian artists. The galleries feature over 9000 pieces of the most thought-provoking works on themes of post-colonialism, feminism, traditional history etc.

Mathaf Guide

Mathaf’s collection features artworks from the Arab world. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and cultural events to engage with local and international audiences.

Location

Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
Education City
Doha, Qatar

Hours

Saturday – Thursday: 9 am – 7 pm
Fridays: 1:30 pm – 7 pm

If you’re a young artist looking to engage with the brimming art scene in Doha, you might also The Fire Station Artist in Residence program in Qatar. It provides a unique opportunity for local and international artists to collaborate, create, and exhibit their work. Situated in the heart of Doha, the Fire Station Gallery offers state-of-the-art studios, workshops, and exhibition spaces where artists can explore their creativity and engage with the local community.

The Hand of God at 2-1 Olympic and Sports Museum

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1986 was a hallmark of the Fifa World Cup held in Mexico. It was Argentina in the quarterfinal against England. Just 6 minutes into the match, Jersey No. 10 secured a neat yet controversial goal for his team. The miraculous moment known as the “Hand of God” was orchestrated by the God of Football, Diego Maradona. This legendary blue jersey was sold at auction in May for a then-record $8.93 million to the Doha-based Museum.

The 3-2-1 Olympic and Sports Museum archives such phenomenal moments of sports history. The 7 galleries house objects revealing the cultural impact of sports through multiple perspectives: the history and contemporary significance of the Olympic Games, the inspiring journeys of global sports heroes, and the development of sports in Qatar.

3-2-1 Qatar Museum Guide

Visit the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum today to enjoy interactive exhibits, inspiring stories, and fun activities that celebrate sports culture within Qatar and beyond. Interactive experiences in our Activation Zone promote healthy and active lifestyles.

Location

3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum
Khalifa International Stadium
Doha, Qatar

Hours

Saturday – Thursday: 9 am – 7 pm
Fridays: 1:30 pm – 7 pm

The Best Museums of Qatar

Art is at the heart of Qatar’s cultural movement. The Public Arts Department at Qatar Museums is championing local artists and involving the community through residencies, exhibitions, and public installations. It’s all about building a dynamic arts community that mirrors Qatar’s diverse heritage.

Explore Richard Sierra’s Sculptures in the desert at Zekreet

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Museums in Doha, Qatar
Mshereib Museums
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Address: 7GPH+VQ8, Doha, Qatar
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Hours:
Mon – Sat 9 am – 5 pm
Fri – 3 pm – 9 pm
Sun – Closed
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Explore the rich cultural heritage of the region through restored heritage houses and interactive exhibits. The museums provide a fascinating journey through Qatar’s past, shedding light on its economic, social, and cultural transformation, making it a must-visit destination for those interested in the history and heritage of the Arabian Gulf region.
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  • Bin Jelmood House, which delves into the history of slavery and its abolition in Qatar;
  • Company House, which offers insights into the development of the oil industry in the region.
OliOli Doha
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Address: Katara Cultural Village Children’s Mall, 21 High Street, Doha, Qatar
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Hours:
Mon – Thu 1 – 9 pm
Fri – Sat 10 am – 9 pm
Sun 1 – 9 pm
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OliOli is an interactive children’s museum typically featuring hands-on exhibits and activities that stimulate creativity and learning.
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  • Toshi’s Net for climbing and problem-solving, the Air Gallery explores airflow,
  • Water Gallery demonstrates fluid dynamics
  • Future Park offers immersive digital experiences, and the Creative Lab for artistic expression.
Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum
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Address: شارع السامرية، الدوحة, Qatar
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Hours:
Mon -Thu 9 am – 5 pm
Fri 2 – 7 pm
Sat 11 am – 6 pm
Sun – Closed
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The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum in Qatar is renowned for its vast and diverse collection of artifacts spanning centuries of history and culture. Its eclectic assortment offers visitors a comprehensive glimpse into various aspects of Qatari heritage and global history, providing educational and enriching experiences for all.
Sheikh Faisal’s private collection includes items ranging from vintage cars, traditional Qatari garments, and weaponry to Islamic art, fossils, and manuscripts.
Souq Waqif Art Centre
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Address: 7GPJ+JR8, Doha, Qatar
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Hours:
Mon – Sun 8 am – 2 pm; 4 – 10 pm
Fri 8 am -10 pm
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At the Souq Waqif Art Centre in Doha, Qatar, visitors can explore several must-see collections showcasing diverse artistic expressions and cultural heritage.
The traditional Qatari Art collection, which features exquisite examples of local craftsmanship, including intricate woodcarvings, vibrant textiles, and ornate jewelry, provides insights into Qatar’s rich cultural traditions.
Al Riwaq Gallery
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Address: Near Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar
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Hours:
Sat – Thu 9 am – 7 pm
Fri 1:30 pm – 7 pm
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Al Riwaq Gallery in Doha, Qatar, is widely regarded as a hub for modern art and cultural events in the region. Situated in the heart of the city’s cultural district, the gallery regularly hosts exhibitions featuring the works of both established and emerging artists from Qatar and around the world.
The gallery’s diverse programming and commitment to fostering artistic dialogue and exchange contribute to its reputation as a vital space for cultural enrichment and creative expression in Qatar.

Qatar: Intriguing Curiosities & Cultural Preservation

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Qatar Museums is championing the country’s National Vision 2030 by integrating heritage into modernization efforts, linking past and future. Qatar Museums’ pivotal role in securing Qatar’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Al Zubarah, in 2011 underscores its dedication to preserving the nation’s cultural heritage. Look forward to the Dadu Children’s Museum launching in Amsterdam in 2026 – it’s all about igniting curiosity and creativity in youngsters while nurturing a passion for culture early on. Qatar’s cultural initiatives aren’t just about preserving the past; they’re about celebrating it. Through collaborations with global partners and investment in cultural programs, Qatar is solidifying its position as a global cultural hub. Don’t hesitate – plan your visit today and immerse yourself in Qatar’s vibrant cultural scene!

Also Read: Everything you need to know about Musandam Dibba

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