Posted on June 22, 2012

Here the sea meets with desert… the past with present… authenticity with contemporary, here you smell fragrant of history and see aspiration of the future… see the beauty of design and touch the latest techniques of restoration… travel across the ages… and learn about the history of Qatar, how was it? How do it become? And how will it be?

Here you are in "New Qatar National Museum", which is rehabilitated by Qatar Museums Authority, at a cost of about one billion and 580 million QR, to be a new brick in building solid foundations to make Qatar the capital of a permanent culture in the Arab region, an investigation for vision of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, which is implemented by Qatar Museums Authority, led by Chairperson of the Board of Trustees Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, to uphold Qatar's culture, strengthen its civilized role and increase its cultural assets of museums and historical discoveries.

New Qatar National Museum, which is expected to open in December 2014, will not only be a portfolio of national memory, but it will be also a witness at the same time to the civilization of Qatar before future generations and the world, in particular that this project is also a part of the country's plan to develop tourism infrastructure before hosting football World Cup 2022, which is expected to attract hundreds thousands of people from all over the world to visit the country, where the museum will be the first milestone seen by the travelers coming from the airport, in order to present to the foreign visitor a vivid picture of the process of modernization, development and renaissance witnessed by the State of Qatar over the past years .

Between the past and the future

Until recently, people and residents of Qatar were able to visit Qatar National Museum, which is located at the eastern side of Doha Corniche, and was previously the palace built by the late Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, may God have mercy on him, at the beginning of the twentieth century, and used it a home for his family and the seat of government during almost 25 years, known as the Palace of the team in power, but it was restored and opened as a museum in 1975. The museum included in addition to the team in power Palace, a lake and fish bond. The building was awarded in 1980 Aga Khan Award for restoration and rehabilitation of Islamic architecture.

Although the building has been restored later, but upon chairpersonship of Qatar Museums Authority by Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, she took on her shoulders to preserve the authentic heritage of Qatar and re-present it to the citizen, resident and visitor in an image reflects the process of modernization, development and renaissance that took place in the State of Qatar over the past years, and she insisted to be Qatar National Museum one of the road sign to achieving Qatar's cultural comprehensive vision to become an important and distinct cultural center in the Arab Gulf region and the world, and work towards the transformation of Qatar to cultural center in the Middle East. 

In March 2010, plan of Qatar Museums Authority was unveiled to develop the New Qatar National Museum, and the mission of designing the new museum was entrusted to the famous French architect (Jean Nouvel), who holding "Pritzker" Prize for Architecture and known by his unique architecture designs, provided that the new design shall keep "the historic palace of the team in power", to serve as heart of the New Qatar National Museum.

Actually, the famous architect (Jean Nouvel) has presented an innovative design for the new museum, inspired from the heart of Qatari environment, where he derived the design from the idea of desert rose, which is a set of flat crystals of sand formed in the desert as a result of certain climatic conditions.

In September 2011, the South Korean Company Hyundai for Engineering and Construction Works announced that it won a contract worth 434 million US $ (one billion and 580 million QR) for building the National Museum in Qatar; the Company pointed out, at that time, that it expected the project of building the museum shall last 33 months, 9 months thereof has passed till now.

In last April, the Malaysian Company "Eversendai Engineering Qatar" unveiled that it has been selected by "Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co." group, the South Korean company responsible for building the museum, to design, manufacture and install of metal structures for the museum.

Science Fiction

The importance of these metal structures are recognized by who identifies the form of the new museum, which reached its peak creativity of design by Jean Nouvel, so that you feel to toddle to the world of future once you saunter its main entrance.

The harmony of the natural formation of desert rose, from which the design of the new museum was inspired by the famous architect Jean Nouvel, with the engineering design of the museum and the employment of technology in its construction, makes the roaming inside feels like living in a science fiction movie, as the walls of the museum are like a natural geological formation the visitor dives inside to discover other worlds, of all ages, sometimes touched by museum holdings , and sometimes watched through film screens that take from the walls of the museum as a base.

The new museum building consists of oblique interlocked cement disks penetrate each other and colored by the sand color, which relief floors, walls and ceilings of diverse wings of the museum. These overlapping rings reveal petals of the Desert Rose, which naturally flow around the historic palace to give a pretty sight for the interlocked disks.    

Between the disks, there are glass facades fill the gaps, and the outer wall panels are installed on the ceiling, floor and walls, making the glaze seems like without frame when viewed from the outside, and obscure the deep notches in the form of sun disks that filter its falling rays.

The thermally insulated areas inside cavities of the disks will reduce the load on the cooling system in the museum, while the hanging disks will create shady and cold corridors in the open air as well as it will protect the interior areas from the light and heat.

Environmental friendly

Design of the building in this way comes in application of the concept of green buildings in Qatar, where high performance glass and effective control system operates by artificial and nature light to save energy is used. Also, shape of the building is exploited to provide excellent negative shades to building facades of high solar angles. As well as a thermal mass is provided by continuation with the internal space. Fresh air of the building and the effective energy treatment system, which depends on the air, is also used. Finally, this technique provides an efficient cooling system and high power. 

Not only the building is environmental friendly, but also museum gardens are designed specifically for the warm climate of Qatar, which will include local herbs and plants such as fruit trees, palms and Sidra trees. Its visit alone shall saturate the desire of environment fans and nature lovers because of what it contains. Design of the gardens shall highlight sand dunes and graded gardens to establish sitting places and spaces for museum events such as tours and lectures.

Design of the gardens will include types of local plants that consume low quantities of water. Through these sustainable measures and others, the museum is working to achieve silver class according to Green Building Council rating system in the United States.      

Symbols and connotations

As the museum is part of the heritage of Qatar, the new design shall not free of many connotations associated with history of the country, where deign of the New Qatar National Museum by (Jean Nouvel) shows a dynamic and vital aspect of the future program of the museum, where it seems as if it coming out of the ground to unite with it, and in this way it reflects the depth of relationship of the building with Qatar identity.

Also, the organization of the building reveals for its visitors that it is like the Khan (a place for rest of traders and exchange of ideas and goods across ancient trade routes). In this way, the New Qatar National Museum expresses the identity of a permanently moving and rapid evolution country.  

In addition, the use of modern technology in the New Qatar National Museum, through converting its internal walls to cinema screens display history of Qatar and folk traditional oral tales, gives an indication of the development witnessed by the country in recent years.

Qatar history and culture

The roaming in the halls of the New Qatar National Museum will recognize three major themes related to history and culture of Qatar, which are: natural history of the peninsula of Qatar, which contains special plant life, as well as social and cultural history of State of Qatar represented by traditions and principals of Qatari people and the popular novels, which originated from the interaction of man with his environment as well as national history of the State of Qatar from the eighteenth century to the present.

The current collection of Qatar National Museum consists of about 8 thousand pieces and includes architectural holdings and elements and heritage pieces that have been used in houses, travel, textiles, fashion, jewelries, decorative arts, books and historical documents; the oldest pieces dating back to the end of the last ice era (about 8000 BC).

The collection also represents the Bronze Age (between about 2000-1200 BC), the Hellenistic Age and the early Islamic Ages. In the museum there are also models of weapons and other pieces from the period of tribal wars as well as more modern decorative pieces, which were used in everyday life.

Museum facilities

The New Qatar National Museum will include an area of about 8 thousand square meters of permanent exhibition halls; about two thousand square meters will be allocated for temporary showrooms, a lecture hall of capacity 220 seats, dining hall accommodates 70 persons, TV studio, two café shops, a restaurant and gift shop.

Separate facilities are available for groups of schools and VIPs, including facilities and offices for staff, a heritage research center, restoration laboratories and places for processing and storage of collections. The museum will be surrounded by a beautiful garden imitate Qatar desert views with an area of about 110 thousand square meter.     

Pride of Qatar

Museum in this form, includes history of the most important countries of the world in modern times, and contains treasures dating back thousands of years BC, there is no surprise to be the pride of Qatar and its people, and especially it in turn reflects the pride and glory of Qatar government and people of heritage and history.

This pride can be touched and felt in every statement deals with the museum, especially the statements of its developing leader, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Qatar Museums Authority, who said about it: "Qatar National Museum is a project at a global level provided by Qatar Museums Authority to our people and the international community…through this new project, we approach achieving the vision of Qatar Museums Authority to build a developed and sustainable country.

HE Sheikha Al Mayassa considered that "The restoration of the Qatar National Museum of the most important projects", and showed that "the message of this museum lies in the revival of history and heritage of Qatar and re-definition of them, not only for the Qatari society, but also for the whole world through transforming it into a magnet for visitors and researchers".

As already said by Mr. Abdullah Al Najjar, Director General of the Qatar Museums Authority "It is a unique experience in the 21st century", where he said "This great project, which arises from the historic palace and location of the oldest museum in Qatar, forms a unique experience in 21st century, celebrates the culture, heritage and future of Qatar and its people, and if we maintain this authentic ancient palace faithfully and include it in the new building to embody the spirit of Qatar Museums Authority, we respect this milestone from our past heritage, and we hope at the same time to achieve a renewed vision through the unique and stunning design of the architect Jean Nouvel.

In his turn, His Excellency Dr. Abd Al Rahim Cafod, the former Minister of Education and former Chairman of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage in previous statements to (Al Sharq), considered that National Qatar Museum Project will have a big role in highlighting the Qatari society, regarding it as a portfolio of Qatar National Memory in its past, present and future.

source: Al Sharq Newspaper