Doha: Interview with Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

24. Jun. 2024 in Interview

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (c) Brigitte Lacombe

Speaking with Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani about Qatar´s museums – and the question of competition in the region.

Sabine B. Vogel: Is there a long-time plan for the culture development/museums?

Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Doha, Katar. Courtesy Qatar Museums

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani: Yes, there is. In fact, Qatar Museums is now entering the third phase of a 25-year plan. Through this plan, we are helping to realize the Qatar National Vision 2030, which sets goals for economic, social, human, and environmental development.

MIA Museum of Islamic Art

In the first phase of our plan, we focused on developing museums that would reflect and explore Qatar’s own history and culture. We began by opening the Museum of Islamic Art in 2008 as our flagship institution, showcasing a collection that spans thirteen centuries and three continents.

Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy Qatar Museums

This was followed within a few years by Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, the leading institution in its field, and the new National Museum of Qatar, where we highlight the history and heritage of our nation.

2. Phase

SBV: What about the second phase?

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani: In the second phase, we developed museums that promote human and social development. These are the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, which opened in time for the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar. It not only celebrates the history of sports as a cultural activity but also incorporates participatory elements that encourage people to lead an active lifestyle. A second institution in this phase is Dadu: Children’s Museum of Qatar, now in development as the only institution of its kind in our region. Also in development is the Qatar Auto Museum, which addresses the community of car enthusiasts in Qatar and highlights ideas and trends for sustainable transportation.

Art Mill Museum

Rendering des Art Mill Museum des chilenischen Architekturstudios ELEMENTAL von Alejandro Aravena. 2030 sollen die umgebauten Türme der ehemaligen Getreidemühle am Corniche eröffnen. Courtesy Qatar Museums

The museums that realize our third phase, focusing on international culture, are the Lusail Museum and the Art Mill Museum. The Lusail Museum, showcasing our exceptional collection of Orientalist art, will be both an art museum and an international think tank, where thought leaders will discuss and debate the issues of cultural, economic, and intellectual exchange across the world, during the colonial era and in our post-colonial world, and where conferences and mediations can be held. The Art Mill Museum will be our fully international museum of modern and contemporary art, housing our collection in this area and also providing space for a Creative Village, where some of today’s artists and artisans will have studios and workshops.

Rendering des Lusail Museum nach dem Entwurf von Herzog & de Meuron nördlich von Doha, das die Sammlung Orientalstischer Malerei zeigen wird

All these museums are important for realizing our goals, but they are not enough in themselves. To develop a cultural ecosystem in Qatar, we are also building hubs for the creative industries, such as Fire Station: Artist in Residence, M7, Qatar’s epicenter for innovation and entrepreneurship in design, fashion, and technology, Liwan Design Studios and Labs, and the future Qatar Preparatory School. And, of course, we are establishing major events such as the Design Doha Biennial and the Tasweer Photo Festival.

SBV: How many museums all together are planned in the next years?

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani: We are developing four new museums. They are Dadu: Children’s Museum of Qatar, Qatar Auto Museum, the Lusail Museum, and the Art Mill Museum.

Blick in die Daueraufstellung des von Jean Nouvel entworfenen Katar National Museum. Courtesy Qatar Museums

SBV: Do you see any kind of competition with the museums in the region? Will the museums cooperate with museums in the region? Abu Dhabi? Al Ula?

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani: One of the core goals of Qatar Museums is to foster mutual understanding and cooperation across borders through cultural exchange. We are certainly open to exploring the possibilities for collaboration with institutions in the Gulf region. Of course, we support any efforts that provide more opportunities and cultural platforms for artists and the creative industries in the MENA region.

SBV: Will the museums cooperate with western museums?

Qatar Nationalbibliothek, Foto: Iwan Baan

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani: We already have extensive relationships with institutions elsewhere in the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Glenstone Museum, the Vitra Design Museum, the Palais de Tokyo, and the Yuz Museum. We look forward to strengthening and expanding this network.

SBV: Will the new museums get their own collections? How?

Fire Station, Kunsthalle for Contemporary Art. Courtesy Qatar Museums

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani: Dadu: Children’s Museum of Qatar is an experiential, participatory museum for learning through play, so it is not collections-based. We do have a collection for the Qatar Auto Museum, but we are also interested in involving the members of Qatar’s car enthusiast community by exhibiting automobiles from their collections. The Lusail Museum and the Art Mill Museum both have very extensive existing collections.