Qatar Museums Plans to Transform the Country Into a ‘Vast Outdoor Museum’ Ahead of the Soccer World Cup in 2022

The Gulf nation is adding 40 new works to its nationwide public art program.

Falcon by Tom Claassen at Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha, Qatar. Photo Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Qatar is expanding its ambitious nationwide public art program to mark the Middle Eastern nation’s hosting of the soccer world cup next year.

Qatar Museums has announced plans to transform the landscape into “a vast outdoor art museum experience” with the installation of 40 new and commissioned works across Doha and the rest of the country. The project will bring the total number of public artworks in the country to 100, including works by local and international artists Monira al Qadiri, Faraj Daham, Simone Fattal, Wafeeqa Sultan, Shezad Dawood, Louise Bourgeois, and Richard Serra.

“The enrichment of Qatar’s public spaces by extraordinary artworks by artists of all nationalities and backgrounds is a point of pride for our nation,” Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, said in a statement.

The art will be installed throughout shopping areas, educational institutions, national rail stations, as well as a few of the stadiums that will play host to the FIFA World Cup in November 2022.

The project was initiated by the national museums authority in July 2021 as part of its public art program, and the Hamad International Airport, Supreme Committee of Legacy and Delivery, and the Public Works Authority, are now involved. To date, 70 works by 60 artists have already been installed.

“The addition of more than 40 installations all over Doha and throughout the country is representative of Qatar Museums’ commitment to its public art program, which enlivens the spaces we share, encourages dialogue among countless people, and provides sources of inspiration that are always accessible,” Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, director of Qatar Museums’s public art department, said in a statement.

Two Orchids(2015) by Isa Genzken outside of the National TheaterCourtesy of Qatar Museums

Two Orchids(2015) by Isa Genzken outside of the National Theater. Photo Courtesy of Qatar Museums

The Gulf nation hopes to become known for its public program of contemporary art. One of its best known public works is Richard Serra’s vast steel sculpture, East/West-West/East, in Zekreet. Among the recent works to be installed are Tom Claassen’s monumental sculpture Falcon (2021), sited outside the Hamad International Airport; Untitled (Trench, Shafts, Pit, Tunnel and Chamber) (1978) by Bruce Nauman is now on view in downtown Doha; and Iza Genzken’s Two Orchids (2015) has been mounted outside the National Theatre. 

The museums authority is also seeking to connect with younger residents through the socially conscious mural project JEDARIART, the 5/6 Initiative, which is an open call for the proposition of a permanent public artwork to commemorate the country’s “resilience,” and a Student Competition to create temporary public works.

“I hope these outstanding artworks will be enjoyed as a sweeping outdoor museum experience by our local community as well as the millions of visitors we expect to welcome to Doha in 2022 from the moment they arrive at Hamad International Airport,” Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said of the initiative.

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