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Tribune News Network
Under the patronage of the Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), housed within a spectacular new building designed by architect Jean Nouvel, will open to the public on March 28, 2019, Qatar Museums said in a statement on Monday.
The immersive and experiential NMoQ tells the story of Qatar and its people from more than 700 million years ago to today, giving voice to the country's rich heritage and culture and expressing a vibrant community's aspirations for the future.
The new museum embraces, as its centerpiece, the restored historic Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim al Thani (1880-1957), son of the founder of modern Qatar. The palace, in earlier times, was both the home of the Royal Family and the seat of government, and was subsequently the site of the original National Museum.
Jean Nouvel's new 40,000-square-metre building incorporates the palace while seamlessly integrating innovative artworks commissioned from Qatari and international artists, rare and precious objects, documentary materials, and interactive learning opportunities.
Qatar Museums Chairmperson HE Sheikha al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani said,"Qatar is an ancient land, rich in the traditions of the desert and the sea, but also a land that hosted many past civilizations. While it has modernised its infrastructure, it has still remained true to the core cultural values of our times."
Jean Nouvel's dynamic architectural design echoes the geography of Qatar while evoking the history and culture of the nation.
According to Nouvel, Qatar has a deep rapport with the desert, with its flora and fauna, its nomadic people, and its long traditions.
"To fuse these contrasting stories, I needed a symbolic element. Eventually, I remembered the phenomenon of the desert rose: crystalline forms like miniature architectural events that emerge from the ground through the work of wind, salt, water and sand," he said.
The National Museum of Qatar is organised in three 'chapters' -- Beginnings, Life in Qatar, and Building the Nation -- presented in eleven galleries. The visitor's chronological journey, which extends through more than 2.7 km of experiences, starts in the geological period long before the peninsula was inhabited by humans and continues to the present day. The route passes through a succession of impressive, remarkably shaped volumes until it reaches its culmination in the very heart of Qatari national identity, the thoroughly restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah.
Oral histories, archival images, artworks, music, storytelling and evocative aromas create an immersive sensory experience that contextualises the impressive array of archaeological and heritage objects, which includes the renowned Pearl Carpet of Baroda -- commissioned in 1865, embroidered with more than 1.5 million of the highest quality Gulf pearls and adorned with emeralds, diamonds and sapphires -- as well as manuscripts, documents, photographs, jewellery and costumes.
Artworks commissioned for NMoQ include a piece by Qatari artist Ali Hassan at the ground-floor public entrance, a work by Qatari artist and arts patron Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali al Thani at the entrance to the galleries, and a sculpture by Iraqi artist Ahmed al Bahrani in the outdoor space known as the Howsh or caravanserai. Commissioned artworks in the NMoQ Park include a monumental installation by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel comprising 114 individual fountains set within the lagoon, with their streams designed to evoke the fluid forms of Arabic calligraphy, and a sculpture by the Syrian artist Simone Fattal, Gates of the Sea, which evokes the petroglyphs found in Qatar at Al Jassasiya.
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