The Museum of Islamic Art Doha (Sunday Times)

jauntie
By jauntie

.

From The Sunday Times
August 3, 2008

Art and architecture in the Middle East

Oil-rich Gulf sheikhs hope to lure art-lovers with a host of glittering new museums - but can culture really be bought?

"That wealth and good taste do not always go together is nowhere better illustrated than in the Middle East. There, oil-slicked rulers have built gaudy monuments to their billions. But now the gold-plated palaces, revolving skyscrapers and seven-star underwater hotels have a tasteful challenger. The Museum of Islamic Art, in Doha, the new national symbol of Qatar, is an understated Gulf icon. And it might just be the best new museum or gallery building anywhere.

IM Pei, the Chinese-American architect behind the Louvre’s glass pyramid, agreed to undertake the project — his last, at the age of 91 — on condition that the Emir of Qatar reclaimed an island in the Gulf on which the new institution could sit like a citadel, without being encroached on by any other building. Pei’s stubbornness paid off. As you arrive by dhow, the vast, tiered limestone cubes of the 400,000 sq ft structure tower over you, giving the building colossal, instant impact. Yet thanks to the soft detailing, notably the Islamic geometric patterning and traditional Arabic arched windows, the structure is not severe.

Inside, the huge atrium is illuminated by a 150ft-high glass curtain wall looking out over the emerald sea. The galleries, with exhibitions of calligraphy, textiles and ceramics from the 7th century onwards, shoot off in every direction. Standing under the silver dome, it’s hard to disagree with the director, Oliver Watson (formerly of the V&A and Oxford’s Ashmolean), that it is “the most spectacular space”. When it opens in November, it will, at the very least, do for Doha what the Guggenheim did for Bilbao — put it on the arts map — but the project is about more than Qatar, modern architecture or Islamic art. It is the first shot in a cultural revolution that could transform the arts across the Gulf.

Reformist sheikhs have spent the past decade using their wealth to snap up financial institutions and retail and leisure brands in an effort to transform the city-states they rule from one-camel towns into global business and tourism hubs. Now they want to use it to acquire something that is impossible to price and may, in fact, be impossible to buy at all: culture.

Like latter-day Renaissance aristocrats, the rulers of Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are sinking £100 billion into grandiose galleries and museums. As well as the new Museum of Islamic Art, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has four new museums on the drawing board, including an extension to the National Museum designed by the French modernist architect Jean Nouvel."

To read full article follow link, please:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual...

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 2/5
anonymous

I don't care what it is or where it's from, as long as they open something cultural here. Eventually.

By nadt• 13 years 11 months ago.
nadt

Does it matter where it comes from Darude, would be good to see...well for me anyway..

By DaRuDe• 13 years 11 months ago.
DaRuDe

yea right every thing purchased from around the world to display here

 

 

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By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
jauntie

On the second page, in case no-one read it all ...

"... We are bringing the West to the Middle East, but also showcasing the Middle East to the West.”

That, it turns out, is the point of these cultural grands projets. The sheikhs want to use the new museums and galleries to change western perceptions of Islam and Islam’s perceptions of the West. In her sunbaked office in Qatar, Sheikha al-Mayassa, the daughter of the Emir of Qatar and chair of the Qatar Museum Authority, acknowledges that, thanks to recent history “people see Islam as a violent religion. We want to go back in time and showcase, with evidence, the fact that Islam is a peaceful religion at the heart of the most intellectually and culturally sophisticated societies in history. That’s our message”.

It’s one that comes through loud and clear in the museum’s exhibits, most notably the collection of complex scientific instruments, such as the 10th-century astrolabes that ancient Islamic scholars used to map the stars and determine prayer times.

The sheikhs also hope that, by hosting exhibitions of western art, the new museums will drag the more conservative elements of local society by the scruff of their dishdashas into the modern artistic world. Both al-Mayassa and al-Muhairi insist that there will be no restrictions on works displayed. Nudes will be featured in paintings and sculpture — a remarkable attempt to push the boundaries of public taste in a region where some newspapers still airbrush women out of photographs, fully clothed or not. “We don’t have a problem with anything, really,” the US-educated al-Mayassa says."

By nadt• 13 years 11 months ago.
nadt

Would be nice to see Darude, dont you think?

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 5/5
anonymous

Islamic Art Museusm typically have art from the Islamic world. So while the bulk of the collections are religious (calligraphy, Korans etc) there will also be decorative arts etc. This could include sculptures, or jewelery, carpets etc.

By DaRuDe• 13 years 11 months ago.
DaRuDe

what do you think what will theyget and from where. did you ever think about that??

 

 

[img_assist|nid=73057|title=.|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=|height=0]

By nadt• 13 years 11 months ago.
nadt

Im looking forward to this as well...

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
anonymous

When did I say Najjar was resigning? I just said he's leaving. That's all.

I'm not spreading any rumours, since, as you say, it was common knowledge that he's on secondment. Again, what's your point?

By genesis• 13 years 11 months ago.
genesis

I pity you. you seem to pay attention to rumors. AL NAJJAR never left his official employer he is on assignment (intdab)

By realsomeone• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 5/5
realsomeone

The Museum is expected to open on 22 November 2008 if they dont change the date.

Poverty is not for the sake of hardship. No, it is there because nothing exists but God. Poverty unlocks the door -- what a blessed key!

- Jalaluddin al-Rumi

By JBH• 13 years 11 months ago.
JBH

I for one am really looking forward to it.

And I will spend many happy days appreciating the history and the art.

Can't wait.

Call me Maninibat!

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
anonymous

what are you disputing, Genesis?

Of course the Ministry of Finace keeps the records. How do you think they pay for everything.

What's your point??

All I am saying is that QMA is spending money on acquisitions.

If you think that the resignation of over half of the Museum workforce (Qatari and ex-pat) is not relevant, okay, that's your opinion. The ex-staff I met were very bitter about the experience and very saddened by the way certain senior staff are trying to run the museum.

And FYI, Abdulla Najjar will leave after the opening in November. That is also a fact.

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
anonymous

what are you disputing, Genesis?

Of course the Ministry of Finace keeps the records. How do you think they pay for everything.

What's your point??

All I am saying is that QMA is spending money on acquisitions.

If you think that the resignation of over half of the Museum workforce (Qatari and ex-pat) is not relevant, okay, that's your opinion. The ex-staff I met were very bitter about the experience and very saddened by the way certain senior staff are trying to run the museum.

And FYI, Abdulla Najjar will leave after the opening in November. That is also a fact.

By genesis• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 4/5
genesis

All of the acquisitions are processed & recorded by the Ministry of Finance ever since all the purchases are done via the Emiri Diwan.

You can visit the Ministry of Finance-Audit section your self if you doubt me.

You have a fact, prove it.

Officially now the Qatar Museum Authority will follow the newly re-established The ministry of Art & Culture.

Resignation of staff proves nothing. The authority is still led by Sheika Myassaa, Sheik Hassan & Al najjar. Never heard that they've resigned!

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
anonymous

I'm not envious.

And I know for a fact that there is no acquisitions policy within the museum.

And I am not saying there is a conspiracy - show me where I said this.

I provided a link to a corroborated source regarding how much money is being spent on new acquisitions.

And if you speak to any of the museum staff you will know that at least 20 people have resigned in the last 12 months. That is a fact.

By genesis• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 5/5
genesis

shame on you.

Spare us your conspiracy theories

All of the art dealings & purchases are being audited by the ministry of finance.There are no secret purchases if it is bought in the name of the Emiri Diwan.

Off course your blah is just speculation & rumors going on the street for years. Thanks god that the museum is back to be part of Ministry of Art & culture.

Here i say it again, the Islamic art Museum going to be a success & you can die on your poisonous envy

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 3/5
anonymous

Yes, there were people who paid an obscene amount for some artwork at that auction. It was the Qatari royal family:

http://www.theartnewspaper.com/article.asp?id=7946

Revealed: $72.8m Rockefeller Rothko has gone to Qatar

The Emir of Qatar and his wife have also spent $52.7m on a Francis Bacon and £9.7m on a Damien Hirst

Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family is the mystery buyer of Mark Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950, which sold at Sotheby’s New York on 15 May 2007 for $72.8m—setting a record for the highest price ever paid for a work of post-war art at auction. The painting was consigned by David Rockefeller.

A well placed source in Qatar has revealed that the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, also purchased Francis Bacon’s Study from Innocent X for $52.7m at the same Sotheby’s sale. Although Sotheby’s does not disclose information about its clients, both purchases have been independently confirmed by The Art Newspaper.

Etc...

And yes, I do know people still working at the museum, although almost all the staff have now resigned amid corruption and mismanagement scandals in the organisation.

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 3/5
jauntie

what is so extraordinary about Arabs paying a fortune for pieces of 'art'. People all over the WORLD are doing the same thing, if they have the dosh to do so!

Personally, I don't understand why the artwork fetches such obscene amounts of money, but they do.

For example in 2007 ..

"On May 15 at Sotheby's in New York, a 1950 painting by Mark Rothko sold for $72.8 million, the highest price ever paid for a work at a contemporary art auction. The very next night at Christie's, a 1963 silkscreen on canvas by Andy Warhol went for $71.7 million."

And that was 2 years ago.

As to storing artwork under the MIA - you have an informant? You know for certain this 'collection' will never see the light of day - and what if it doesn't?

There are many private collections belonging to the very rich so why pinpoint the Qataris. I agree it's a shame, but it isn't a practice peculiar only to the very wealthy in this part of the world.

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
anonymous

Jauntie, is spending USD250,000 on a single ceramic tile about culture? Or a few million dollars another copy of the Koran really that justifiable?

And as for the acquisitions, I was only talking about the MIA. Over 90% of the collection won't be displayed, it'll be in a storehouse downstairs where no one will see it.

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
jauntie

I'm not an art buff either, but like to think if I WANT to go to a museum to see some that there is the opportunity to do so. :D

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
anonymous

mmmmm I'll stick to wiping bums, art and sheep in glass boxes was never my thing........

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
jauntie

does that really need an answer?

Art is art, but there are difference types of art from different cultures, time etc., yes?

Are Roman or Greek artifacts in the same category and style as a Van Gogh or an arrowhead found in Britain dating back to thousands of years BC?

It's just a label to the style. Renaissance etc

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 4/5
jauntie

when I posted this article. Wealthy Americans (and probably other 'rich kids' around the Globe too) have been buying and hoarding art for decades, no one seems bothered about that! :D

It's an investment, of course, but some DO occasionally exhibit their personal collection of artwork for us plebs to gaze on.

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
anonymous

so, whats the difference between Islamic art and 'art' then?

By genesis• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 5/5
genesis

Both Sheikh Saud and sheikh Hassan are elite art collectors for a long time.you are no different than qataris who feeds in rumors . The museum of islamic art will be a success whether you like it or not.

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 2/5
jauntie

"These projects aren't about culture, or art, or preserving relics for future generations, they are spending up money to make other people envious."

As to stocking up on artifacts and such. How else will they fill the other "...four new museums on the drawing board" when the time comes. Emir gonna nip over to Harrods for the week end and buy a few bits and bobs to fill the walls and podiums?

And I don't think ANY major building projects anywhere in the world go smoothly. Most go over budget by double before they're even half built! (Let's not even mention the 2012 Olympics lol)

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 5/5
anonymous

My two cents, for what its worth.

The building was originally supposed to be one of many cultural institutions to be built in Doha. Also planned were a library, orientalist musuem, photography musuem, history of education museum and so on.

Most of the projects were canned when the Sheikh in charge of the project, Sheikh Saud, was found to be stealing hundreds of millions of dollars.

So the project already has a really dirty past.

Now the gulf states are in the middle of a bidding war to see who can open the most cultural insititions the fastest. Abu Dhabi is building a Guggenheim and a Lourve, Dubai is building a dozen galleries of their own, Sharjah is due to open an Islamic Art gallery, and so is Bahrain.

These projects aren't about culture, or art, or preserving relics for future generations, they are spending up money to make other people envious.

The proof of this is the amount of acquisitions that will never be shown to the public. The Qatar Museums Authority has a huge warehouse full of objects that just cannot be displayed due to lack of exhibition space. Yet they keep buying more, and more, and it keeps getting stuffed into the warehouse in Al Wajbah.

And don't even get me started on the chronic mismanagement plaguing the Museum itself...

By Oryx• 13 years 11 months ago.
Oryx

Well actually not quite a theme park but wouldn't it be great if Doha built a mega Aquarium World or did something like the Eden project?

I think the new museum building is iconic....

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
jauntie

museums like theme parks in Vegas?

I'm sorry, but I find all these comments really negative and unfair.

This area is in it's infancy compared to Europe. I never heard anyone suggest the The New Tate in London, was going to turn into a Disneyland Theme Park, nor that by building it London was competing with Paris and their Louvre's glass pyramid.

What's so different? Why shouldn't this part of the world have it's museums and theatres like everywhere else in the modern world without people slagging it off as vulgar and nouveau rich.

It's a natural progression in the growth of the area.

Even our ridiculous Millennium Dome or even The London Eye were given SOME credit!

By baldrick2dogs• 13 years 11 months ago.
baldrick2dogs

... when will it open? I know, a day after D Ring ;o)

----------------------------------

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 4/5
anonymous

senarios.

I always thought the Middle east and Islam had a very important history of traditions and culture.This, IMHO, may turn out to be like a Vegas theme park, and a competition between GCC to see who can do the biggest and best....

[img_assist|nid=103941|title=.|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=|height=0]

NIL ILLEGITIMI CARBORUNDUM

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 3/5
jauntie

in praise of what the Arabs here are trying to achieve culturally. Hats off to them I say!

"the project is about more than Qatar, modern architecture or Islamic art. It is the first shot in a cultural revolution that could transform the arts across the Gulf."

Also the Museum has been sympathically designed: with "...soft detailing, notably the Islamic geometric patterning and traditional Arabic arched windows."

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
jauntie

comment deleted

By GodFather.• 13 years 11 months ago.
Rating: 5/5
GodFather.

Right said Dr Paul, you can buy anything, but Art Sake I hope there will some local artist from the region. Too many imported Cultures may dilute their own...

-----------------

HE WHO DARES WINS

By anonymous• 13 years 11 months ago.
anonymous

[img_assist|nid=103941|title=.|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=|height=0]

NIL ILLEGITIMI CARBORUNDUM

By jauntie• 13 years 11 months ago.
jauntie

Something a bit more 'Qatar positive' than a Lamborghini oil change !

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