I can’t let friends or family come to Doha without a trip to the serene beauty of the Doha Museum of Islamic Art. Little Diamond was content to view the exhibits at her own speed, so I visited a few of my favorite friends:
I never tire of spending time with Iznik Tiles
There is an Iranian piece that bowls me over with its beauty
And I just have this thing for light fixtures. This is a mosque lamp, and I think it is Turkish
But oh, look at the interior of the museum itself:
There is a breathtaking view of the Corniche Skyline from the spot where, on the map, they say the coffee shop should be. It really needs a coffee shop there. The restrooms are immaculate, the gift shop has lovely items, the exhibits are lush and beautiful, but you need a place to sit and think about what you’ve seen, compare notes, recharge so you can go back and take another look at something you are wondering about. It really, really needs that coffee shop.
The Doha Museum of Islamic Art is open during the hottest part of the day. It must be that everyone else is travelling, or at home having lunch, taking a snooze or that they don’t know the museum is open – we had almost the entire museum to ourselves, and we felt like honored guests!
The museum is just beautiful, as beautiful as before. This time, without the crowds of people, I really had time to appreciate the interior, the beauty of the materials that went into this building, and the sound of water throughout, making you feel cool and refreshed.
And then, there is that never-ending view of the Doha skyline, seen through the windows overlooking the Gulf:
It just boggles my mind that we are encouraged to take photos, that photos are not forbidden. I love this photo; I am sorry it is not so sharp but if I had used a flash, I would have spoiled the moment. These two men had no idea I was taking their photo; I figure it is OK because you don’t know who they are, you can’t see their faces. I just loved these grizzled warriors examining an even earlier warrior.
I tried so hard not to breathe, still, there was some shake. Sometimes the shot you get is the shot you get.
These tiles draw me back to the museum again and again; I love the intersection of cross and star:
I used it in placemats for my mother, and in a quilt for my youngest sister:
The pattern still draws me, and I have some other ideas of how to use it . . .
If you have ever thought of visiting this museum, oh WOW, the summer is the time to do it at your leisure. It is quiet, and cool and calm; you can stop and reflect on the beauty of the collected pieces, you are not rushed, there is no one around but you and the guards. Go now! It is the perfect time to visit.
It’s also free. It’s free, it’s open to the public for free, no charge, just come enjoy the beauty. What an amazing gift to the people of Qatar. And to the rest of us!
It’s Friday afternoon, and I can hardly believe it. We are here. Now THIS is my idea of a romantic getaway – please! Keep your chocolates (although I do love chocolate!) and your roses, keep your long lingering dinners and fabulous wine, but take me someplace where I have really wanted to go, and I will be your slave forever. You da man, AdventureMan. You know how to win my heart.
It is a glorious day and the museum has just opened. There is a huge parking lot and little carts ferrying the older people and women with small children to the entrance, but it is a nice walk, not a hard walk. Families are streaming in, and (gasp!) admission is FREE! You have to go get a ticket; I guess maybe that is how they keep track of admission statistics, but this beautiful museum, floating out over the gulf, all white and clean and gorgeous, filled with priceless objects of art, it’s free? Amazing.
We decide to start with the Beyond Borders exhibit, a special collection of art that integrates Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions in an art collection. There are so many pieces that make me gasp in awe. I see one, and I can’t resist, the camera is out of my bag, I see others snapping photos with cell phones, but I know the rules . . . hmmm. But there is nothing posted here saying “no photos!” I ask the guard if I am allowed to take photos and he tells me “You are welcome, madame, all through the museum, you may take photos.”
I am in total shock. All through the museum? I can take photos?
Here is the piece that moved me so much that I gathered up the courage to ask. It is a Madonna, painted in Aleppo, Syria, I believe, and it has an Quranic sura written in her halo:
The museum is my oyster, and my battery is dead. I didn’t bring another. Some things happen for the best, and I tuck my camera back in my purse and AdventureMan and I try to absorb what the Doha Museum of Islamic Art has to offer.
It is an impossible task. There is SO much. Not everything is well documented, and then there are sections which are amazing. There is so much to learn, and so much beauty in this museum.
If I had to choose my favorite thing of all, it would be some tiles from Kashan. In an earlier post, commenter Daggero mentioned that the word for tile used in Kuwait is “kashi” and now I know that it comes from these tiles, made in Kashan around the 1300’s (Gregorian calendar) which were famed for their intricacy, their interlocking designs, and their high quality. There are also Iznik tiles in the museum, which are thought to be greatly influenced by these tiles from Kashan.
I had no idea, but the tiles just blow me away. I would love to create some tiled rooms back in my Seattle house, with reproductions of some of these amazing star shaped tiles. For me, that was the highlight of this trip. I know there will have to be many more – this museum is filled with treasures. Free – for all the people. And yes – the gift shop is awesome!