In the not-so-distant past, Doha Fire Station was a real fire station. But today, it's one of Doha's main art hubs aiming to inspire an appreciation of the arts. It provides support to artists through its nine-month "Artist in Residence" program and is an interactive artistic platform for cultural and creative exchange. It's open to everyone so if you're an art lover or just looking to explore more of Qatar, here are 5 reasons why you need to visit The Fire Station!
Do you know why it's called The Fire Station? Because it used to be one! The building was built in 1982 and was the home of the first civil defense authority in Qatar until late 2012.
After that, it was handed over to Qatar Museums to be repurposed for contemporary use. The Fire Station: Artist in Residence was officially opened to the public in 2015 along with the inaugural '555' exhibition. According to The Fire Station's bio on its website, "Ibrahim Al-Jaida, the architect leading the project, has preserved the original details of the building and its tower. The Annex and extended building were additions to the original structure."
Also, it's not a museum but a "residence for artists".
Aside from the works produced by the Artist in Residence program, The Fire Station's world-class exhibition space, The Garage Gallery also regularly hosts exhibitions from renowned international artists such as Alberto Giacometti, Ai Weiwei, Kazimir Malevich, and KAWS. For this year, Picasso's Studios is on display at the Garage Gallery until November 1, 2020.
Doha Fire Station is one of the places in Doha where street art lovers can find larger than life murals in Qatar. You definitely won't miss the colorful art on the walls of its buildings. From the artworks commissioned by Qatar Museums for the "100 days of blockade" initiative to the ones by German street artists for the Qatar Germany 2017 Year of Culture.
And of course, you can also see the split portrait of the Amir and Father Amir painted on the former fire training tower in the courtyard even from farther away.
Do you know what's the best thing? You don't need to pay an entrance fee to see them!
The contemporary cafe located beside the fountain has floor-to-ceiling glass windows which provide a nice view of West Bay, especially at night. It also has an alfresco dining area perfect for the cooler months. The cafe offers international and regional dishes and beverages as well as healthier options for those looking gluten-free, organic, and vegetarian dishes.
A few meters from the cafe, you'll also find a bright red food truck. Truck #999 was actually the second oldest fire truck in Doha that has been converted into a 'one-of-a-kind' food truck.
Note: As part of COVID-19 precautionary measures, prior reservation is required before dining in.
If you're also into arts and crafts, then a visit to Cass Art should also be in order. Cass Art is a leading art supplies retailer from the UK and stocks up on a wide range of art materials, from paints to pens, pencils, sketchbooks, and more. Take your pick from Cass Art's own range of products and other famous brands such as Winsor and Newton, Daler Rowney, and Faber Castell.
Don't forget to look up when you enter the shop to marvel at the seemingly floating brushes suspended from the ceiling.
Have you been to Doha Fire Station? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments and don't forget to share to your friends!
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