Museum of Islamic Art, Doha | Notebook & Image Gallery

The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

NOTE 09-Jun-2014: I’ve finally caught up with photos from my working visit last month to Doha, capital of Qatar, per capita the richest country in the world. I’ve divided them into several smaller galleries which I’ll continue to publish over the next week.

First up is a focus on the Museum of Islamic Art, the finest museum in the Emirate and one that houses one of the most complete collections of Islamic art in the world. I visited it once before and was really looking forward to this return engagement. Architecturally, it’s on the short list of my favorite museums on the planet so this first post will focus on the structure itself. I’ll follow up in another post with some notes and thoughts on the collection it houses.

‘Strong and simple’

Modern architecture master I.M. Pei was coaxed out of retirement by the Emirate to undertake the ambitious project’s design. Ambitious it was; with this world class museum, Qatar wanted to redefine itself as an international cultural center. Pei admitted he knew nothing about Islam and little about the Islamic world, so at 91 he set off on a six-month quest to fill that gap.

Pei traveled throughout the region observing and learning about Muslim architecture, he studied the life of Muhammad and read Islamic texts to gain insight and collect inspiration. He told The New York Times that he became particularly interested in “the art of defense, in fortifications”, and an architecture that is “strong and simple”.

Steps leading to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha
Steps leading to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha
Outside of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar
Courtyard of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar

Doha is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. That fact worried Pei who decided that the only remedy was for the structure to stand alone to keep it from becoming encroached by the city that continued to grow around it. Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, agreed, so he had a small island constructed at the southern end of Doha Bay on which the 45,000 square-meter museum now sits.

Construction was completed in 2006, but several changes to the interior pushed the grand opening back to November 2008.

The building is elegant but imposing, a cubist pyramid rising from the sea. From every direction, particularly from across the bay, it indeed appears fortress-like, illuminated by the desert sea and sun that Pei found so captivating.

Quick note on the photos: it was typically hazy during my visit which accentuated the brownish hues of the building but rendered much of the bay invisible. Nine more pics below. Enjoy!

Hours of Operation:
Sunday 10:30am to 5:30pm
Monday 10:30am to 5:30pm
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 10:30am to 5:30pm
Thursday 12pm to 8pm
Friday 2pm to 8pm
Saturday 12pm to 8pm
Admission is free, as the wifi. More on the museum website.
Atrium at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Atrium at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Atrium ceiling at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar
Atrium ceiling at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar
Atrium of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar
Atrium of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

A large chess board in the atrium of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar
A large chess board in the atrium of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar
At the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar
Courtyard the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar
Atrium at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar
Atrium at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar
Gallery in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar.
Gallery in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar.
Atrium cafe at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar
Atrium cafe at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar
All images © Bob Ramsak 2010-2014. All rights reserved.
For stock or editorial use please get in touch.
For print purchases please visit here; for greeting cards and post cards here.
Note: Images taken in spring 2010 and 2014. Galleries updated regularly as needed. Click on image for additional information.

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  1. Michele says

    Stunning building nothing like anything I have seen before. I really like Islamic art, it seems to be so different from western art especially to Qurans that are decorated.

  2. Hitch-Hikers Handbook says

    Great museum and lovely photos, Bob! Love all the different shapes and forms!

  3. Rashad Pharaon says

    Being from Saudi Arabia, I look at pictures like these and wonder why Saudi Arabia cannot build such elegant and beautiful Islamic structures. Oh, I forgot, Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow tourism… so why bother.

    Such a shame.

    1. Bob R says

      I really appreciated your last photo tour of Saudi Arabia, Rashad. It really wasn’t anything like I expected it would be. I expected something much more Qatar-like, for lack of a better term.

  4. Bente Vold Klausen says

    Looks like a great and interesting museum with an exiting architecture.

  5. Christina says

    Great building, architecture and art. Never seen anything like this before.

  6. Bianca @itsallbee says

    I have seen pictures of this place from somewhere. Its seem like such a fascinating place to visit.

  7. Brianna says

    Wow, what a stunning space! I love how they blend traditional Islamic touches into the modern architecture.

    1. Bob R says

      Indeed, it’s quite spectacular.

  8. Karen Warren says

    I went to that museum in Doha and loved it – you’ve got some great shots of the building. I don’t know what Doha is like now but when I was there (two or three years ago) there were a lot of things under construction or shut for renovation, so this museum was one of the few things you could actually see!

  9. Illia says

    My oh my! Never knew Doha has such amazing architecture. And your photos, Bob, they always make everything look even more incredible.

  10. The Wandering Wanderluster says

    Your post just highlights that there is so much more to Doha than its airport that so many people just pass through as a stopover. Unfortunately I was one of those people this year but if I had the time I would of liked to of stopped there for a couple of days. It looks like there is still a lot of construction going on in the city and it has amazing architecture – clearly shown in your pictures 🙂

  11. noel says

    Wow, what a stunning building and your compositions are magnificent, loved the detailed imagery Bob

  12. The architecture looks stunning! I didn’t know much about Qatar, but it looks worth a visit for this museum alone!

    1. Bob R says

      It is an excellent museum. The building is amazing.

  13. illumidata says

    Great writing and photography Bob, thank you for opening this window on the world for me – very much appreciated.

    1. Bob R says

      Thank you, much appreciated. Feel free to stop by anytime. 🙂

  14. yodandalek says

    Brilliant pictures!! Need to put Doha in our travel wishlist, the sunrise tour & the museum look stunning!

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