Posted on June 27, 2019

To commemorate the recent second anniversary of the blockade of Qatar, Qatar Museums has installed an original part of the Berlin Wall at Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), through an ongoing cultural collaboration with Qatar Foundation (QF).

The piece of art – gifted to the State of Qatar in 2017 during the Qatar Germany Year of Culture celebrations – was unveiled today at QNCC, a QF member, at a ceremony attended by His Excellency Hans-Udo Muzel, Germany’s Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Ahmad Musa Al-Namla, Acting Chief Executive Officer at Qatar Museums, Hisham E. Nourin, Executive Director of Strategy, Administration and Projects at Community Development president office (QF) and Abdulrahman Al Ishaq, Head of Public Art at Qatar Museums (QM).

Once forming part of the wall that divided East and West Germany for three decades, this gift is highly symbolic, being made at a time when an ongoing blockade has been imposed on Qatar. Ahmad Musa Al-Namla, Acting Chief Executive Officer at QM said: “This remarkable object is both an authentic piece of history and a work of art, to showcase the strong relationship between the two nations, the State of Qatar and the Federal Republic of Germany, and the ongoing success of the cultural exchange program of Qatar Museums.” 

“In recognition of the power of art to unite people, today we unveil this second segment of the wall, to be added to our Public Art program, which brings works of art outside the walls of museums and art galleries, so that Qatar Museums can encourage dialogue and creativity among everyone,” he added. Speaking at the ceremony, Hisham E. Nourin, Executive Director of Strategy, Administration and Projects, Community Development president office, QF, said: “This segment of the Berlin Wall is a perfect complement to the 150 works that comprise Qatar Foundation’s unique collection of art, and those that have kindly been loaned to us by Qatar Museums. All of these are on public view within Education City, reflecting the central role that art holds in our community development efforts.

“Each of the artworks displayed across Education City is designed to encourage critical thinking, be a catalyst for discovery, and spark the imagination and creativity of those who view them. They are intended to foster cross-cultural understanding and perspective, and they are a platform for social engagement and interaction. These values are intrinsic to the mission and ethos of Qatar Foundation, which is why we place such importance on having a public art program that speaks to all members of Qatar’s community.”

The two panels unveiled at QNCC include an artwork by Thierry Noir, a French artist who is claimed to be the first street artist to have ever painted the Berlin Wall in 1984. West Berlin’s side of the wall gradually filled with murals detailing the German experience, a stark contrast to the East, where citizens were forbidden from nearing the wall. After the fall of the Berlin wall, graffiti became a way in which artists from all around the world would express how they felt about the division of citizens. The displayed panels measure just over 2 meters wide, over 3.5 meters high, and just over 1 meter thick each. The concrete is reinforced with steel bars, and covered in spray painted graffiti that conveys messages of hope, freedom and change.

The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 to separate West Berlin and East Berlin during the Cold War ultimately creating two separate sides- the democratic West and the communist East. The concrete wall physically and ideologically divided Berlin, standing as a symbol of oppression for almost three decades. The border was opened on 9th November 1989 allowing free movement for German citizens from East to West Berlin. The wall, which was both a physical barrier and an ideological divide, was finally torn down in 1989. It became the symbolic end of the Cold War, uniting Germany for the first time since 1945.

The Berlin Wall section is available for public viewing at QNCC, in QF’s Education City.