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The curious structure hovering over Qatar’s waters along the Cornice might look like an odd boat among all the pearl boats docked close to shore, but it is a fascinating, sharp and ultra modern house for the vast accomplishments of art in Islam over the centuries.
The Museum is free to access and it is open every day except Tuesdays. Sun-Wed hours are 10:30-17:30. Thursday and Saturday 12 noon till 8pm and Fridays 2pm till 8pm. The place is well located along the main road. It is not far from the Souk and it is a stop on the tourist bus tour and it has spacious parking as well as a variety of walkways and panoramic views.
The beauty of the museum is that in addition to the art it contains, it is by itself a masterpiece of design, geometric oddities and a combination of almost every type of Islamic design across the ages and cultures. On the main entry level there are helpful staff who assist with a security check, maps, audio and personal guides. The main floor has several cafes and spots from which to take in the cityscape either having a snack or for picture taking.
There are traveling exhibitions which take place on the first floor. These themes are very specific manifestations of Islamic art which occur for months at a time. On the second third and forth levels one can see a variety of art manifestations. Each floor has a U shaped pattern of displays, so the best way to see things is to start from one end to the other. Each room has a description which can also allow you to get a general idea of the time and place being recreated. The entire viewing experience should take around 1 hour. On the very top floor a nice sit down restaurant offers stunning views of the outside panorama as well as the interior atrium.
The heaviest amount of collections seem to come from Iran, but Egypt, India, Central Asia, China, Spain and many other countries are represented. Art is displayed in forms of glass, furniture, carpets, clothing, jewelry, weapons, paintings, manuscripts and calligraphy. The manuscripts of the Koran are intriguing with their various shapes, styles and sizes. The rich carpets showcase the most skilled weaving and ingenuity. The presence of portraits, animals and illustrations show a side of Islamic art, which many have failed to appreciate or didn’t know existed at all. The variety of objects, yet not overwhelmingly presented makes the museum manageable and interesting from the first showcase to the last.