A Visit To The Museum Of Islamic Art

There's something about the MIA that reminds me of Penrose Stairs

There's something about the MIA that reminds me of Penrose Stairs

More Than A Collection Of Objects

One of the most iconic buildings in Doha is the Museum of Islamic Art. There’s a faint echo of a pyramid in the way it squats on the Corniche and it rewards the patient observer with a subtle animation of light and shadow as the sun slices off the many angles and shapes of it’s façade.

It reminds me of the Penrose Stairs, a series of impossible steps that confuse the eye.

Inside the museum there is a vast collection of Islamic art from across the world and through the ages. One of the biggest visual delights occurs even before you enter the display. As you walk into the atrium, two giant curving staircases bisect the space and in the oval shape between the stairs your eyes is drawn to the huge plate glass window facing West Bay. 

Stand on the stairs and looking up, a massive lantern hangs from the ceiling. If you stand directly underneath you’re rewarded with this stunning pattern.

In each of the display rooms there are artefacts that seem to hang suspended in the subtle lighting that punctures the otherwise sepulchral gloom. 

This is a museum that demands to be investigated at a slow pace. Each object repays careful examination. I loved the examples of calligraphy, tiny, dense patterns that swirl with mathematical precision across the page. Often gilded, these pages stand alone as art objects, independent of their scriptural meaning.

The museum is one gigantic invitation to sink slowly into a deep meditative state. I found myself immersed in kind of fugue, as I slowly moved from object to another.

There is a continuity of form and detail that unifies this collection which for me at least, means the Museum of Islamic Art is one of the highlights of my stay so far. 

Question: What is your favourite cultural activity in Doha?