The Museum of Islamic Art is a museum on one end of the seven-kilometer-long (4.3 mi) Corniche in Doha, Qatar. As per the architect I. M. Pei’s specifications, the museum is built on an island off an artificial projecting peninsula near the traditional dhow harbor. A purpose-built park surrounds the edifice on the eastern and southern facades while two bridges connect the southern front facade of the property with the main peninsula that holds the park. The western and northern facades are marked by the harbor showcasing the Qatari seafaring past.
The museum hosts the restaurant IDAM led by the head chef Alain Ducasse. The restaurant is inspired by French Mediterranean cuisine. IDAM also offers master classes in cooking artisanal bread and raw foods. The museum has a park, workshops for schools and the general public, and a library that provides information about Islamic Arts in both English and Arabic. The library also has nine study rooms.
The museum is influenced by ancient Islamic architecture yet has a uniquely modern design involving geometric patterns. It is the first of its kind to feature over 14 centuries of Islamic art in the Arab States of the Persian Gulf.
Occupying an area of 45,000 m2 (480,000 sq ft), the museum is on an artificial peninsula overlooking the south end of Doha Bay. Construction of the building was done by a Turkish company, Baytur Construction, in 2006. The interior gallery spaces were designed by a team of Wilmotte Associates. The museum was opened on November 22, 2008 by the then-emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad. It opened to the general public on December 8, 2008.
At 91 years of age, the museum’s architect, I. M. Pei had to be coaxed out of retirement to undertake this enterprise. He traveled throughout the Muslim world on a six-month quest to learn about Muslim architecture and history and read Muslim texts to draw inspiration for his design. According to Pei, the light fountain in 9th century Ibn Tulun Mosque of Cairo was the inspiration.
Declining all proposed sites for the museum, he suggested a stand-alone island for the structure to avoid encroachments by other buildings in the future. It was built off an artificial peninsula, approximately 60 m (200 ft) off the Doha Corniche and surrounded by a somewhat crescent-shaped 290,000 m2 (3,100,000 sq ft) park. Pei requested that the museum spaces be designed by his collaborator on the Louvre project, Wilmotte & Associates, who then assembled a design team including Plowden & Smith (conservation consultants), Isometrix Lighting + Design (lighting consultants), and SG Conseil (AV Consultants) under Turner Projacs. Along with this design team, Leslie E. Robertson Associates was the structural engineer for the project.
The main building consists of the five floors, the main dome, and the central tower. It is connected with the education ward via a large central court. Pei utilized creamy limestone for the outer facades to emphasize the various shades during the different times of the day. The five floors are covered by a glass facade to the north, and it provides a panoramic view of the Persian Gulf. The interior of the building is decorated by several Islamic arts, and the large metallic chandelier hung over the main staircase of the lobby. Many elements found in Ibn Tulun Mosque are represented in the building as an abstract form. This enables the agreement with values and principles of the postmodern architecture historical trend which synchronize the modernity and the historical Islamic architectural identity.
The Museum of Islamic Art represents Islamic art from three continents over 1,400 years. Its collection includes metal work, ceramics, jewelry, wood work, textiles, and glass obtained from three continents and dating from the 7th to the 19th century.
The museum houses a collection of work gathered since the late 1980s including manuscripts, textiles and ceramics. It is one of the world’s most complete collections of Islamic artifacts, with items originating in Spain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India, and Central Asia.
An important Quranic manuscript within the collection is MS.474.2003.
Wikipedia. (2021, February 6). Museum of Islamic Art, Doha. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_Islamic_Art,_Doha