DUBAI: Designed by renowned Chinese-American architect IM Pei, the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar reopens on October 5 after a complete overhaul, just in time for the FIFA World Cup, which is due to begin in November.
The museum, which opened in 2008, has been closed since April 2021. Its reopening foresees a relocation of its permanent collection galleries, reconfigured according to “major historical and cultural themes, periods and geography”, and will explore “the great traditions of Islam”. know-how,” the officials said. Another attraction is the more than 1,000 objects, including many newly acquired and previously unseen works of art.
“The relaunch involves a complete overhaul of its permanent galleries, an important step that reinvents the entire collection,” Julia Gonnella, who became the museum’s director in 2017, told Arab News.
There will also be a new section on Islam in Southeast Asia and an exploration of the relationship between different cultures through exhibits highlighting the trade in goods and the exchange of ideas across the Islamic world and the world.
Shortly after its reopening, the museum will inaugurate “Baghdad: Eye’s Delight” (October 26-February 23), the temporary exhibition that showcases and celebrates one of the world’s most influential cities, examining its heritage as capital of the great Abbasid Caliphs (750-1258) and its legacy in the 20th century, when the city once again became a thriving center for arts, culture and commerce.
Gonnella stressed that this exhibition is “not simply a celebration of glorious Abbasid Baghdad”.
“While the glory of the Abbasids waned, the city remained of great importance and the spirit of its heritage is prevalent in present-day Baghdad,” she told Arab News. “Despite the wars, destruction and hardships the city has had to endure since its founding, echoes of the Abbasid heritage are still heard. For this reason, the exhibition will present Abbasid Baghdad alongside 20th-century Baghdad , focusing particularly on the period between the 1940s and 1970s, when the city once again became an economically and culturally flourishing place with intense urban planning, architectural developments, significant movements and developments in the education sector.
Highlights of the exhibition include artifacts from the Abbasid period (remains of Abbasid palaces such as doors, textiles and gold bracelets) as well as trade items (textiles and glass-ceramics) and precious manuscripts, such as important copies of the Koran and scientific treatises. Modern artworks, including by Dia Azzawi and Sadiq Al-Fareej, as well as paintings by the Modern Baghdad Group, including Jewad Salim and photographs by Latif Al-Ani, will also be featured, Gonnella said.
Among the main new attractions is the recently restored 19th-century Damascus Hall, which highlights facets of Ottoman life. It took three years to reassemble and preserve it.
“One of the highlights of the museum’s redesign is the elaborate wooden interior of the Damascus Hall,” Gonnella said. “We have included this beautifully restored 19th century interior not only as a fascinating piece for all to view, but also because it reflects so well the great importance that people in the Arab world place on hospitality, welcoming guests, drinking coffee and tea together – an important part of Islamic culture.
The reopening of the museum is part of Qatar Creates, a year-round national movement that aims to celebrate the diversity of cultural activities in the country.