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Qatar’s museums offer incredible cultural encounters
Qatar combines the past and the future in a way that is unlike anything else in the world. This is most evident in their museums, which house art and artifacts from across the Islamic world in breathtaking buildings that are themselves treasures.
These museums tell the story of Qatar’s past and reveal much about its identity today.
Designed by I.M. Pei, most famous for the glass-and-steel pyramid at the Louvre, the Museum of Islamic Art stands on its own man-made island off the Doha Corniche. The five-story, geometrically shaped main building is inspired by Islamic design.
The masterpieces inside come from all corners of the Islamic world, spanning three continents and more than 1,400 years. The collection of religious and non-religious art includes ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, textiles, manuscripts, and glass.
One of Doha’s most distinctive buildings is the National Museum of Qatar. The petal-like architecture, built around the original palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, was inspired by the desert rose crystals found throughout Qatar.
The National Museum of Qatar is famed for its ultra-modern, multi-sensory storytelling. Audio-visual elements, as well as scents, bring Qatar’s past to life alongside historic artifacts. There’s even a park that features Qatar’s indigenous plants.
The Msheireb Museums are a unique feature of Msheireb Downtown Doha, a planned city being built in the heart of Qatar’s capital. The four historic houses were converted into world-class museums that look into lesser-known parts of the country’s past.
They include the Company House, which was home to Qatar’s first oil company, and the Mohammed Bin Jassim House, the home of the son of the founder of modern Qatar which displays artifacts discovered during the construction of Msheireb Downtown Doha.
The Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum at Al Samriya is worth driving out to for its collection of historical objects. The fort-style building contains 15,000 artifacts including an entire traditional Syrian home, reassembled at the museum.
The most popular galleries here display 700 hand-woven rugs from around the world, more than 600 antique vehicles, Bedouin crafts, and ancient coins and currency. The Quran room is another highlight.
Carefully crafted collaboratively between Qatar Tourism and Lonely Planet. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.
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