Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums will open the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) to the public on 28 March 2019, welcoming the world to an unparalleled immersive experience housed in a new architectural masterpiece by Jean Nouvel.
The Museum’s winding, 1.5-kilometer gallery path is a journey through a series of unique, encompassing environments, each of which tells its part of the story of Qatar through a special combination of architectural space, music, poetry, oral histories, evocative aromas, archaeological and heritage objects, commissioned artworks, monumentally-scaled art films, and more. Together, the eleven permanent galleries take visitors from the formation of the Qatar peninsula millions of years ago to the nation’s exciting and diverse present. Giving voice to the nation’s rich heritage and culture and expressing the aspirations of its people, NMoQ will serve as a hub for discovery, creativity, and community engagement, providing diverse educational opportunities for Qatar and advancing the nation’s cultural vision on the global stage.
The spectacular 52,000-square-meter (560,000-square-foot) NMoQ embraces as its centerpiece the restored historic Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani (1880-1957), son of the founder of modern Qatar. A building that in former times was both the home of the Royal Family and the seat of government and was subsequently the site of the original National Museum, the historic Palace is now the culminating exhibit in the sweeping succession of gallery experiences.
In designing the building that makes these experiences possible, Jean Nouvel drew inspiration from the desert rose, a flower-like formation that occurs naturally in the Gulf region when minerals crystallize in the crumbly soil just below the surface of a shallow salt basin. Described by Nouvel as “the first architectural structure that nature itself creates,” the desert rose became the model for the Museum’s complex structure of large interlocking disks of different diameters and curvatures—some vertical and constituting supports, others horizontal and resting on other disks—which surround the historic Palace like a necklace. A central court, the Baraha, sits within the ring of galleries and serves as a gathering space for outdoor cultural events. On the outside, the Museum’s sand-colored concrete harmonizes with the desert environment, so that the building appears to grow out of the ground and be one with it. Inside, the structure of interlocking disks continues, creating an extraordinary variety of irregularly shaped volumes.
The cantilevered disks, which provide natural shade, are among the elements of the design that have enabled NMoQ to become the first museum to receive both LEED Gold certification and a four-star sustainability rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System. The National Museum of Qatar will be officially inaugurated by His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in an opening celebration attended by heads of state, dignitaries, and museum leaders from around the world on the evening of 27 March 2019.
Opening weekend hours: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm Thursday; 1:30 to 7:00 pm Friday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Saturday.