The Museum of Islamic Arts has been considered to have the greatest collection in the Artwork of Islam. There are artefacts of ceramics, woodwork, jewelry, glass, metalwork, textiles and coins. There are masterpieces brought in from all around the world which are somehow either secularly or non-secularly connected to Islam. Each object is precious for it has been accumulated from the treasury of the royal families and houses of the ordinary people. The following is information on some of the works displayed in the Museum:
From the famous carpets that still line the markets of the Arabic world to costumes from even before the 16th century, and finally to iridescent fabrics which were made especially for the elite, the museum holds all this history.
The timeline of these date over twelve centuries and reflect the intrinsic beauty with which their makers had built the products. There are mostly objects which were used in kitchens such as plates, silverware etc. There are intensively-designed tile panels as well.
There are more than eight hundred manuscripts of the Qur’an which date back from the 7th century to the 19th century with the works of Ottoman Empire. Abbasid Blue, which is known as the rarest manuscript, is displayed here along with two pages of Timurid Baysunghur Qur’an, which is the longest Qur’an.
Vibrant glass pieces are found in the mosque lamps, vases and the goblets of the medieval period. They could hold water or lighten the setting of the house.
The museum has been designed by IM Pei, who was forced out of retirement, and it in itself is an art. The main structure is away from the mainland and is constructed out of a solid stone, naturally-made rock with the help of orthogonal and diagonal lines. The shape is introverted, has a sense of monolithic feel, strong and complex. It seems the whole building rises from the water. The entrance leads to an atrium which has a huge window behind, providing a breathtaking image of Doha’s rising skyline. The insides of the Museum are hollow, which direct the focus towards the mesmerizing geometric skylight. There are lightweight bridges which seem as if they are floating in space.
The typical sandy hue is etched into all the stones. All the skyscrapers in the city have numerous windows giving them the glazed look, but the sandy stones blend into this. The Arabian Gulf can be seen contrasting with this design and making the museum one-of-a-kind.
In an attempt to convert the flour mills in the Gulf into art mills, around twenty-six architects took part in the Art Mill International Design Competition. This will hold galleries and exhibitions which will not only help in education and handling art, but also in researching about Islam culture and conservation. The Mill will join the Museum of Islamic Art and the currently-under construction National Museum of Qatar.
The museum has a park that extends alongside, which is an open space for the family to get together or for anyone to sit and relax. There are various activities conducted here and the skyline of Doha is clear here. The cafe and kiosks provide more reasons for stopping by this area. Recreation comes in the form of playgrounds and bungee trampolines.
The main attraction here is the Park Bazaar which sells products that are a mix of tradition and the modern world. There is handcrafted, well-thought of paintings, local and western clothes, jewelry and accessories, photographs and various other kinds of art. It’s as if the park holds its own Islamic Art.
Another important structure in the park is the sculpture which is an eight-foot high piece of steel work. This has been designed by Richard Serra who is an American artist. There are seven plates of steel which have been arranged in a heptagonal shape (seven-sided shape). The significance is that of the spiritual and it was inspired from a minaret located in Afghanistan.
The Katara Cultural Village
also known as the Valley of Cultures displays the traditions through the medium of theatre, architecture and a variety of Islamic Art.
This, along with everything else present around this museum, will become an important essence of Islamic Art in the future.