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Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art

P.O.Box 2777, Education City, Qatar +974 4402 8855/8830. www.mathaf.org.qa/
Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha is the first establishment of its kind in the world with the most esteemed archives of art from all over the world.
Mathaf(is pronounced 'mat-haf' and means "museum") is envisioned to be used as a stimulating space for dialogue and scholarship about international modern and contemporary art, as well as serve as a platform for artists in Arab diaspora and beyond.

Mathaf is inaugurated in 30 December 2010 and presently has 6,300 works of Arab art ranging from the nineteenth century and also has plans for establishing a research center to foster academic development with workshops and lectures. Qatar’s Emir Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani, A long-time patron and protector of Arabic artists who is himself an artist and passionate art collector started to build a collection that could serve artists and public as a rich and representative treasure-house of modern Arab art.

With the opening of the Museum of Islamic Art in 2008, Qatar’s objective to become the Middle East’s most important cultural destination took its first step. Qatari officials reached their next major cultural milestone in 2013 with the opening of Mathaf, an embryo project that aims to give modern art a wider audience in the Arab world. Mathaf is based on a collection, mostly of paintings, that dates back to the 1840s. Housed in a converted school building on the outskirts of town, the French architect, Jean-François Bodin was assigned to transforming a school, located in Doha’s Education City area, into a museum, and the result is an incredible example of recycled architecture which took less than a year to complete and cost just €8m ($10.5m).

How to go?
Mathaf is located to the west of Doha in Ar-Rayyan. Mathaf is in a converted school building on the edge of Doha Education City, off Al-Luqta Street.

Design and Collections
The most of collections in the museum was donated by His highness H.E. Sheikh Hassan Al Thani’s with a long-standing interest in art and artistic expression that made this to highlight the significance of Arab art. He also collected books and periodicals and began an artist residency program, which created a wealth of archival materials documenting Arab artists and artwork. The Museum which is nearly 5,500-square-meter (59,000-square-foot) and has a collection of more than 6300 artworks representing major trends and sites of production in the region as well as it offers a extraordinary comprehensive outline of modern Arab dating back to 1840.

The Museum is nestled in a corner of Doha's massive Education City complex which was redesigned by French architect Jean Francois-Bodin. The museum building Spartan exterior is still enclosed by scaffolding and the whole of building is all about function over form. The forecourt is dominated by a pair of sculptures which is remarkable in both size and scale. The renowned sculpture artist Ismail Fattah conceived the lofty Guardian of the Fertile Crescent who sadly passed away before its finishing point. This epic granite carving which depicts two striking figures seated side by side was completed by Ali Nouri.

Al-Safina or "The Ship” was created by sculptor Adam Henein from 64 blocks of black and pink granite shipped from his home in Aswan, Egypt. This sculpture is straight away recognizable as a ship but it also leaves room for the second thoughts. Twenty granite and bronze sculptures were carved solemnly on top of the ship-like structure which includes animals, human figures, plants as well as several abstract forms, many of which soar imposingly towards the skyline.

Inside Mathaf, guests are welcomed into a spacious lobby which has two big portraits of Emir and Sheikha Mozah discreetly placed at the information desk. Reception desk offers a variety of literature and a floor plan of the artwork at hand. There are 2 floors which has 10 galleries of art arranged inside. The ground floor houses nature, individualsm, form and abstraction and about Doha whereas the first floor mainly consists of society, struggle, Horoufiyah, family, history and legend galleries. The museum also features the many civic struggles endured by the Arab world throughout the 20th Century and also includes individual portraiture, cityscapes and text-based art.

The flexible space inside Mathaf has soft shades of lively paintings arranged in a succession of interconnected galleries and sparkling fluorescent lighting between floors at times provides an electrifying sensory experience. The aesthetic beauty of Mathaf makes one forget the maze-like layout of the museum.

The Mathaf inaugurated its gallery spaces with three exhibitions which were conducted concurrently. In 2011, Mathaf organized the most successful Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art: an introductory exhibition displaying works by more than hundred artists and representing essential experiments in art. an exhibition of five new commissioned works by modernist pioneers "Interventions: A Dialogue Between the Modern and the Contemporary," is still practicing today; and a modern exhibition of recently commissioned work from Arab artists organized by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath(former Chelsea Art Museum (CAM) curatorial duo) "Told/Untold/Retold: 23 Stories of Journeys through Time and Place."

A broad Arab spectrum Artists are represented in the galleries and exhibitions, and while names like Mahmoud Said, Wafaa Bilal, DiaAzzawai, and Sliman Mansour , the Palestinian artist are perhaps less familiar to western visitors before the happening Mathaf. Even though the Mathaf is in its infancy, it has made a significant impact to the shift of museum dynamics in West Asia. Apart from the officials in Mathaf taking on an active custodial role within the contemporary Islamic world, they have envisioned on Doha’s transformation into a major cultural capital and also with a sustained program of exhibitions which are thematically diverse, historically meticulous and curatorially exploratory.

The Museum includes a small souvenir and book shop offering a concise selection of literature, exhibition catalogues, contemporary art books, regional magazines and personal, exceptional, and full of one-off designs to present as gifts. Mathaf's stripped-back coffee bar which serves tea, coffee and a variety of snacks around the modern art of conversation.

A spacious research library and artists workshop is major features of the Museum with wide range of scholarly resources, free WiFi, print and digital collections covering modern art worldwide, art theory and general art with a special focus on the Arabic art.

Mathaf has an 8 month internship program for resourceful university students (Mathaf Voices) who want to develop programs and events and to lead exhibition tours at the museum.

The Mathaf bus connects and operates between Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Islamic Art which takes about 25 to 35 minutes to reach either museum. The Mathaf Bus is sponsored by Occidental Petroleum of Qatar (Oxy Qatar).

The free shuttle service – Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm, Friday from 3pm to 8pm

Things to Remember
Visitors are advised to bring a map when travelling by taxi as the Museum is located on the outskirts of town and it's a good idea to have the information desk call ahead for the return journey into the city.
No fee to enjoy the whole art galleries and facilities.
Photography is limited to reception hall and outside museum.
Book can only be read in the library and not to be borrowed, regrettably.
Mathaf offers Education Programs for children, students, families and adults.
Visitors can make their own creative space by meeting artists face to face, look at interdisciplinary connections and join the chat about contemporary and modern art .

Museum Hours
Sunday 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Monday Closed
Tuesday 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wednesday 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Friday 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saturday 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Free admission to the permanent collection exhibition
Temporary exhibitions- 25 QR
Entry free for students and children under 16 to all exhibitions
Free entrance for ICOM and CIMAM members
Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art

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