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Posted On: 5 October 2022 09:35 am
Updated On: 5 October 2022 10:56 am

Reimagined Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar's Flag Plaza & new art installation inaugurated

Vrinda Abilash
Vrinda Abilash
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Museum of islamic art mia flag plaza public art installation doha

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al Thani and Qatar Museums Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums on 4 October 2022 reopened the iconic Museum of Islamic Art.

This was following a year-long facilities enhancement project and the reimagination and reinstallation of its permanent collection galleries. The inauguration ceremony was attended by diplomats and cultural emissaries representing all nations of the region that together are celebrated as part of the Qatar-MENASA 2022 Year of Culture.

The Reimagined Museum of Islamic Art

Gallery 11 - Egypt and Syria, 7th to 10th century AH (13th to 16th century CE)
View of the table displays with metalwork and glass lamps from the Mamluk period (Egypt and Syria, end of the 7th to the 9th century AH/end of the 13th to the 15th century CE); Image credit: Press Release

The Museum of Islamic Art, an architectural tour de force designed by internationally acclaimed Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei (1917-2019), was the first institution opened by Qatar Museums in 2008 under the leadership of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa. Prominently positioned on its own reclaimed island on the Corniche, specifically chosen by Pei, the Museum is a beacon for Islamic arts and a platform for international dialogue and exchange bridging past and present, East and West.

The reimagining of MIA’s collection galleries introduces a comprehensive visitor trail, creates expanded interpretive materials to help contextualise the masterworks, and provides new mobile and child-friendly resources to make the Museum more accessible for families and younger guests. The galleries are organised according to broad historical and cultural themes, periods and geography, and explore the great traditions of Islamic craftsmanship. MIA also introduces a new section on Islam in Southeast Asia with focus on the connection between different cultures through exhibits on the trade of commodities and the exchange of ideas across the Islamic world and beyond. The enhanced and expanded experience eases visitor flow to serve a larger audience with a reframed entrance and upgraded cafés and retail locations. All improvements to the building are in keeping with I.M. Pei’s vision. MIA once again collaborated with the French interior design and architecture firm first retained by I.M. Pei, Wilmotte & Associés, throughout the reinstallation process.

Flag Plaza

flag plaza
Image credit: Press Release

The Qatar Armed Forces Band Regiment, a musical unit of the national Armed Forces, performed at the inauguration ceremony, which was followed by the raising of 119 flags representing nations with diplomatic missions accredited by the state, as well the European Flag, the United Nations Flag and the Gulf Cooperation Council Flag.

The ceremony was attended by Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, along with ambassadors of more than 100 nations.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al Thani, accompanied by Minister of Youth and Sports, His Excellency Salah bin Ghanim Al Ali and Minister of Culture His Excellency Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad bin Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani on 4 October 2022 attended the inauguration of Flag Plaza, a new community space initiated by the Years of Culture programme, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. The annual Years of Culture programme is an international cultural exchange that deepens understanding between nations and their people first unveiled when Qatar won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

The ceremony was attended by Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, along with ambassadors of more than 100 nations.

New art installation

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums said: “The Flag Plaza is an expansive symbol of the diverse community we welcome in Qatar and the rich connections made through cross-cultural interaction. Its meaning is beautifully embodied in Najla Al Zein’s stonework creation, which will be a permanent reminder of our global interconnectedness. I invite the people of Qatar and all who visit to make use of this new space, coming together in celebration of our common humanity.”

Najla El Zein said: “Us, Her, Him - is an installation that reflects on human interaction and connection. It is composed of a series of sculptural benches spanning over three hundred and thirteen meters of hand-sculpted limestone, sited all around the Flag Plaza. This is a place of unification, and working in a public space brought a new layer of meaning to my practice. The sculptures, which are intended as functional seating, illustrate various modes of interaction: acquaintance, friendship, love, introversion, confidence, familiarity, fluidity and obstruction. While each piece has its own individuality, they come together as a collective. I hope that my work will be a meaning part of this new public space, celebrating the commonality and connections that exist between individuals of all ages and backgrounds."

Community Days Festival

Flag Plaza, located near the Museum of Islamic Art Park, will serve as a community gathering space and a location for festivals, celebrations and other events for the people of Qatar. The first of these events, open from 5 – 15 October 2022, will be the “Community Days Festival.” Many embassies are taking part in the “Community Days Festival” to celebrate the many cultures and people who call Qatar home. Each embassy will present a different programme of events, ranging from stage performances to exhibit panels with information on different countries.

Source: Press Release
Cover image credit: Press Release