Arab Museum of Modern Art opens in Qatar

December 15, 2010

Qatar's Emir at the opening of Mathaf - QNA

Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, a museum featuring the largest collection of modern Arab art, was inaugurated by Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.

“With the opening of Mathaf, we make Qatar the place to see, explore and discuss the creations of Arab artists of the modern era and our own time,” Shaikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) Chairperson, said. “We are proud that Qatar is now revealing these artistic achievements in unprecedented depth and breadth, just as our Museum of Islamic Art opened vast new perspectives on our centuries-old heritage,” she said at the ceremony.

For Shaikh Hassan Bin Mohamed Bin Ali Al Thani, QMA vice chairperson, Mathaf could be described as the testimony of a quarter century of art collection.

“This is a long-cherished dream,” he said ahead of the opening of the new museum with an impressive collection of more than 6,000 works. “We are starting this museum in a temporary building as there is an urgent need to showcase Arab art, and would be moving to a permanent facility in future,” he said.

Mathaf deepens the conversation about Arab art and helps advance the creativity of the Arab world, Shaikh Hassan said.

QMA CEO Abdulla Al Najjar said “Mathaf was born out of Shaikh Hassan’s profound, ongoing engagement with Arab artists and his desire to share their works with our own people and a global audience.”

For Roger Mandle, QMA executive director, Mathaf demonstrates how Qatar is redefining the role and function of museums in the 21st century while Wassan Al Khudhairi, chief curator and acting director, said that the museum aimed to become a resource for its visitors, both physical and virtual, local and global, to learn about modern Arab art.

According to officials, Mathaf presents programmes that engage the local and international community, as well as to encourage research and scholarship, contributing to the cultural landscape of the Gulf region, the Middle East and the Arab diaspora.

To welcome the public when it opens on December 30, Mathaf will offer free activities for all ages, including a variety of tours in Arabic and English throughout the afternoon and evening.

The opening exhibition in the Mathaf building, ‘Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art,’ which goes on public view from December 30, will survey the museums unparalleled permanent collection.

Sajjil, an Arabic word meaning the art of recording, features more than 240 paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works made by more than 100 artists, representing pivotal moments in the development of Arab modernism throughout the 20th century.

Arranged thematically across 12 galleries, the exhibition makes its own contribution to rethinking the position of Arab artists toward modernism and within the modernist movement.

‘Sajjil’ is organised by guest curator and consultant Dr Nada Shabout (associate professor of Art History and director of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute at the University of North Texas), Mathaf’s al-Khudhairi, and head of strategy, Deena Chalabi.

The museum includes galleries on two floors, a café, a museum shop, a research library and an education wing. Visitors will enter Mathaf through a terrace that features large sculptures by Ismail Fattah and Adam Henein, and a shaded outdoor seating area for the café.

From the terrace, visitors will pass through a screen-wrapped scaffolding-style façade, upon which imagery and video can be projected at night.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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