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15 April 2019 05:10 pm

Top five attractions in the National Museum of Qatar

Khadiza Begum
Khadiza Begum
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The National Museum of Qatar is one of the best-loved landmarks in the country. Following a painstaking restoration project over a period of more than three years, now the National Museum of Qatar is one of the sought–after destinations in the country. A visit to this museum is an all-encompassing journey, carrying you from millions of years ago to the edge of tomorrow.

The National Museum of Qatar has designed and developed a wide variety of exciting and engaging learning resources for school, family and youth audiences. Hands-on interactive gallery spaces, family trails, student activity booklets, art-trolleys, handling collections, gift shops, and outdoor playgrounds —all contribute to creating a dynamic and fun environment for young learners.

Here we have discussed about the top five attractions in the National Museum of Qatar.

1. Galleries

The National Museum of Qatar is organised in three ‘chapters’: ‘Beginnings’, ‘Life in Qatar’, and ‘The Modern History of Qatar’. Within these chapters are eleven galleries. Within the main museum galleries, there are six intergenerational learning spaces for families, with exhibits designed by Dutch designers Opera Amsterdam.

Each of the six intergenerational learning spaces is made up of around five mini-interactive exhibits. These target different age groups, ranging from toddlers to pre-teens. The spaces prompt visitors to engage with gallery content and with each other, in fun, tactile and creative ways.

The first gallery takes the visitor on a journey through time, exploring the geological and biological evolution of the Qatar peninsula. The story told in this gallery begins more than 700 million years ago. At times the region was land-locked, at others it was submerged under water, with the peninsula as we know it today emerging just a few thousand years ago. The gallery offers an interactive exploration of the complex geological processes that created the peninsula. Fossils of plants and animals on display represent seven time periods of Qatar in the distant past.

2. Gift Shop

The Dahl Al Misfir (“Cave of Light”), located in the heart of Qatar, is a beautiful underground sanctuary formed largely from fibrous gypsum crystals that give off a faint, moon-like, phosphorescent glow. This natural formation inspired the design of the two museum shops that will be open at the NMoQ. Their organic architecture echoes Koichi Takada’s vision of bringing nature back into architecture, establishing relationships that connect people and nature through design.

The interiors are constructed from 40,000 wooden pieces, which form a three-dimensional puzzle. Each wooden piece is entirely unique and fits only with its exact counterpart. They were assembled by hand in Doha by Italian master carpenter, Claudio Devoto and his team of artisans.

The main gift shop will stock a large collection of well-designed, exclusive gifts, many of which draw their inspiration from the history, heritage and culture of Qatar. IN-Q Enterprises, which operate the gift shops, have worked in collaboration with local artists and designers to develop authentic and original merchandise. The children’s gift shop will offer a diverse range of locally designed souvenirs and gift items, including educational toys, books, puzzles and games.

The Gift Shop and the Children’s Gift Shop: open Saturday through Thursday from 9.00am- 
19.00pm and Friday from 13.30pm-19.00pm

3. Artworks

There are different artworks inside and outside of the museum to offer unique perspectives on treasured Qatari traditions and the life of the Qatari people.

A monumental installation by the noted French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, ALFA, consisting of 114 individual fountains set within the lagoon. The largest project ever conceived by Othoniel, the fountains echo the sense of movement that is so much a part of the flowing architecture of the building and its contents. There are no vertical streams of water; rather, the references in the way the water rises and falls are to the fluid forms of Arabic calligraphy.

The entrance to the museum is marked by a specially commissioned artwork by Qatari artist Ali Hassan Al Jaber, Wisdom of a Nation, whose geometric design draws on the image of the Qatari flag and an excerpt from a poem by the founder of modern-day Qatar, Sheikh Jassim bin Muhammad Al Thani. Just before the entrance to the permanent galleries is a work by the Qatari artist, patron and collector Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani, Motherland, evoking the connections between the desert, the sea, and the women of Qatar.

Welcoming visitors inside the NMoQ is a wall installation by the Qatari artist Ali Hassan, 'Wisdom of a Nation', which draws on the image of the Qatari flag with an excerpt from a poem by the founder of modern-day Qatar, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammad bin Thani.

    4. Park

    The museum is surrounded by a 112,000-square-metre park with gentle landscaping, a broad 900- metre-long artificial lagoon, gardens with large green areas, paths and walkways, designed by French landscape architect Michel Desvignes on the overall plan for a natural, truly Qatari setting for the museum.

    All the abundant plantings, including many large trees, are of native species. There are eleven varieties of date palm. As well as new trees, an existing stand of large sidra trees has been carefully preserved. This local tree is especially close to the hearts of the Qatari people who regard it as symbolic of their country. All the smaller plants in the park are desert species, including shrubs, herbs and grasses. Everything relates to the land and history of Qatar, and reveals a remarkable diversity given the desert location of the country.

    Visitors to the museum will be able to wander freely through the gardens, which at cooler times will also provide a delightful setting for picnics. At night, the building will gently glow in the landscape, lit by Hervé Descottes of the French company L’Observatoire International.

    There are three specially created outdoor children’s play areas, which will open as part of later phases of the project.

    5. Cafe and restaurant

    The museum is also home to a range of family-friendly cafés and restaurants that serve fresh, great-tasting food. The Jiwan Restaurant, located on the fourth floor at the top of the museum, has a terrace with stunning panoramic views over the Doha Bay. It embodies the unique landscape of the ‘inland sea’ or Khor Al Adaid where the sea comes deep into the heart of the desert. Jiwan is named after the Qatari word for the “perfect pearl,” rose-tinted white, completely round with a lustre so pure that it comes alive with radiance.

    And the Desert Rose Café is an oasis of Desert Rose formations, offering a perfect mid-way rest spot for visitors to break the journey through the galleries. The design of Desert Rose Café is a direct reference to the impressive urban scale of Jean Nouvel’s architecture, recreating the interlocking disc design on a smaller scale.

    Café 875 is located on the mezzanine floor over the main lobby and was designed to ‘hide’ from the visitors’ sightline so that it does not physically overwhelm the arrival experience. The wooden profiles of the seating medallions are angled to follow the ceiling of architecturally impressive interlocking discs flying over the main lobby and the café.