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Posted On: 30 June 2021 12:45 pm
Updated On: 30 June 2021 01:19 pm

An exclusive interview with Museum of Islamic Art Director Dr. Julia Gonnella about the future of it

Vrinda Abilash
Vrinda Abilash
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Qatar Museums on 24 May 2021 announced its plan to renovate the building of the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), in a project in cooperation with the Social and Sport Contribution Fund “Daam”, and to be implemented by the Public Works Authority “Ashghal”.

The renovation work includes the galleries and interior spaces of the MIA building, which consists of two stories for permanent exhibition halls, two temporary exhibition halls, a private exhibition hall, a lecture hall, and a gift shop. Through this project, Qatar Museums is seeking to provide museum visitors with an exceptional experience.

Here's's exclusive interview with Museum of Islamic Art Director Dr. Julia Gonnella regarding the future of the museum.

Q: It was recently announced that MIA is temporarily closed for a major enhancement project that involves a reimagining of its visitor experience and the reinstallation of its permanent collection. What does this mean for museum visitors?

Dr. Julia: The Museum of Islamic Art has been planning the relaunch of its galleries for several years. To implement the changes, MIA will remain closed until the work is completed, presumably until early fall 2022.

Q: Why is the museum being “reimagined”?

Dr. Julia: The reimaging of MIA’s permanent collection galleries will introduce a comprehensive visitor trail, create expanded interpretive materials to help contextualise the collection’s masterworks, and provide new mobile and child-friendly resources to make the Museum more accessible to families and younger visitors. The galleries will be organized according to broader historical and cultural themes, periods and geographical areas from a Middle Eastern perspective. Many newly acquired and conserved works of art will be on view with a large percentage displayed in the Museum’s permanent galleries for the first time, alongside iconic international masterpieces for which MIA is known.

The rehang of the new permanent galleries will thus involve a shift from MIA’s mainly aesthetic-driven presentation to a more comprehensive, context-driven one. For this, MIA has developed an entirely new storyboard that is not so much based on purely artistic but more on historically and culturally relevant themes that explore the artworks in a broader perspective. MIA wants to specifically address topics that are relevant to the Islamic world.

MIA will also include a new Family Trail with multimedia features to make the display more accessible for a wider audience. More information on the rehang will be announced at a future date.

Q: Will the layout of the museum’s interiors change?

Dr. Julia: The layout will not change as such. All modifications are implemented within the existing framework. However, new graphic material and multimedia features will be added so that the galleries will have a new and much more immersive feel.

Q: Can I still shop at the MIA gift shop or have dinner at IDAM? [MIA Park will be accessible.]

Dr. Julia: No, unfortunately, both the MIA gift shop and IDAM will be closed during this period. One can still shop through the online store. We are excited for our reopening, which will include a newly designed gift shop with many new items on offer.

Q: Will the museum’s education outreach program continue while the museum is closed?

    Dr. Julia: MIA’s Education program will continue to offer programs and MIA’s Education wing including the Library will remain open throughout the enhancement project. Of course, MIA Park will also remain open during this time.


    Qatar Museums renovates Museum of Islamic Art in cooperation with Daam

    Source: Qatar Museums, Press Release
    Cover image credit: Qatar Museums