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Museums & Galleries

Museums & Galleries in Doha

Considering Doha is attempting to become something of a regional cultural hub, the current state of its museums is somewhat shambolic. Many museums are under seemingly never-ending refurbishment, the opening hours are not particularly tourist friendly, websites lack practical information such as opening times and location, and many museums require you to phone in advance for a special appointment (which can make the solo visitor feel somewhat uncomfortable as the curator opens up just for one person).

  • Museum of Islamic Arts, Next to Doha Port, on the Corniche (Route 76 bus; shuttle bus), +974 4422 4444. S M W 10:30AM-5:30PM; Th Sa 12-8PM; F 2-8PM; Tu closed.Doha's flagship museum. Housed in a building designed by I.M. Pei, the museum hosts artefacts from Muslim dynasties all over Asia, Africa and Europe. Also present are items from the Al-Thani dynasty, as well as art from all parts of the Middle East. Gloriously air conditioned, there is also a cafe and gift shop. The permanent exhibition is on the 2nd and 3rd floors, with temporary exhibitions on the ground floor. Free wi-fi in the museum building, dress appropriately. An hourly shuttle service provides free transportation between MIA and Mathaf W-Su 11AM-5PM; driving time between the two museums is 25-35 minutes. Free.
  • Mathaf: Arab Museum Of Modern ArtAl Luqta St, Education City (shuttle bus), +974 4402 8855, e-mail: . Sa-Th 11AM-6PM, F 3-9PM, M closed. A specially designed building housing a collection of modern art from the Arab world, based on a personal collection amassed by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The museum also hosts occasional exhibits featuring internationally-recognized contemporary artists. An hourly shuttle service provides free transportation between MIA and Mathaf Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun 11am-5pm, Fri 3pm-8pm, no shuttle Mon/Tue; driving time between the two museums is 25-45 minutes. Free.
  • National Museum of QatarEnd of Al Muthaf St. Currently closed and due to open December 2014. The original museum was housed in an early 20th-century palace; its extension, now under construction, was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and inspired by the desert sand rose. The extension and original palace can both still be viewed from the outside.
  • Weaponry MuseumAl Luqta area,  +974 486 7473. The museum houses a spectacular display of weapons and artifacts dating back to the 16th century. The collection has magnificent ceremonial swords that belonged to members of the Gulf’s ruling families: an 18th-century gold-encased dagger owned by Sheikh Ali Bin Abdullah Al Thani; a sword belonging to King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia; and a khanjar (traditional curved dagger) carried by the famed Lawrence of Arabia. The beauty and rarity of this collection bears witness to craftsmanship that has been lost for generations. Open mornings, Sunday to Thursday, by appointment only, after obtaining a letter of authorisation from the Museums Authority. Free.
  • Orientalist MuseumOff Al Muthaf St (Mirqab),  +974 4436 7711. Su-Th 7:30AM-2:30PM by appointment. The Orientalist Collection of the State of Qatar is one of the most significant collections ever assembled in the world. The approximate 700 hundred paintings, water colours, drawings and prints, acquired over the last twenty years, trace Orientalism back to the early 18th century. The museum closes sporadically and it may be difficult to get an appointment.
  • Photography Museum. This building designed by Santiago Calatrava houses the government's collection of photography, composed of some 15,000 items including historic cameras and accessories, prominent photographs, 1960s albums and historic documents. There are occasionally some temporary exhibitions. The museum often closes to the public at short notice for long periods of time.
  • Arab Postal Stamp Museumoff of Lusail St (Katara Cultural Village, Bldg 22A),  +974 4409 1077. Daily 7AM-1:30PM, 4PM-9PM. Established in 2010, this small museum exhibits stamps from 22 Arab countries.
  • Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Museum: West Bay BranchCity Tower, 6th Floor, Omar Al Mukhtar St (Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel, near City Center Mall),  +974 4422-3899, e-mail: . 9AM-5PM by appt only (specify 'West Bay Branch'). A new extension of the Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Museum in Al Shahaniyah, this branch currently displays a number of carpets from various Middle Eastern countries, as well as furniture and domestic objects from Qatar and the Gulf region. It is eventually planned to make the collection accessible without appointment.
  • VCUQatar GalleryVirginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, Al Luqta Street, Education City, Doha, Qatar (Enter Education City through Gate 2, then right at the 2nd roundabout),  +974 4402 0555. VCUQatar have a small gallery, with exhibitions which change every few months, located in their campus on Education City, which is open to everyone (sign in at reception). Because of the ongoing building works at Education City, it's a nightmare to get from MATHAF to here, but when the trams are running it should be an easy side-trip from there!

Qatar - Travel guide