Exhibition Previewing Upcoming Lusail Museum
HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani opened Sunday the "Lusail Museum: Tales of a Connected World" exhibition, which continues until April 1, 2023, in presence of HE President of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed Al-Thani, and a number of VIPs.
Lusail Museum: Tales of a Connected World at QM Gallery Al Riwaq will showcase plans for Lusail Museum, its architectural design, and its world-class collection of art. This introduction to the new institution, which is scheduled to break ground in 2023, is presented as part of the year-round national cultural movement Qatar Creates, opening in time for the influx of visitors to Doha for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron, the Lusail Museum building will be constructed in Lusail, the home of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed bin Thani, the statesman, diplomat, and poet who was the founder of Qatar.
The overarching exhibition, Lusail Museum: Tales of a Connected World, will highlight the past, present, and future of Lusail through images of archaeological remains, the Lusail Heritage site, and Lusail today as a flourishing city. The exhibition will comprise 247 objects, many from the world's most extensive collection of paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, rare texts, and applied arts, assembled by Qatar Museums. An immersive, interactive digital trail will complement the exhibition and the visitor experience and will include films from the Doha Film Institute, as well as soundscapes introducing historical and contemporary musicians from around the globe. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Xavier Dectot, Director of the Lusail Museum with design by Studio Adrien Gardère.
Tales of a Connected World places the museum and Qatar at the heart of the Indian Ocean world, exploring how the robust trade routes that carried people, objects, and ideas around the globe influenced the way people interact to this day. Key stories include Wajbah as the site of the epoch-making battle between Qatari and Ottoman forces, Jerusalem as the crossroads of faiths, 10th century Cordoba, Nineveh, and the Court of Sultan Suleyman. Qatar is center-stage again in the exploration of the artist Eugene Delecroix's fascination with the Arabian horse and horseman, a fascination which persists globally today - Sheikh Jassim Bin Khalifa Al Thani's Aljassimya Farm is one of the largest breeders of Arabian horses in the world.
The extraordinary collection is always at the centre of the exhibition's narrative. Notable works and their potential for multiple readings in today's globalised world are displayed in diverse ways - from a dense hang evoking the display techniques of the 19th-century Salon in which such works would originally have been seen, to a focus on individual objects which capture key historic moments, to a juxtaposition of historic and contemporary works that illuminate changing ideas about people, ideas and encounters.
One example of the exhibition's re-focussing of the gaze is the presentation of story of Amanirenas, Queen of the Kingdom of Kush (in what is now Sudan and southern Egypt), who had led her armies against Rome just a few years before the far better known story of Antony and Cleopatra. The exhibition explores how one story is neglected and the other celebrated, showcasing objects including props and costumes from the 1963 film Cleopatra and Lawrence Alma-Tadema's painting The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra: 41 BC (1884). Reasserting the importance of Kush and other African civilisations, the gallery also features a first edition of The Voyage to Meroe by Caillaud and images from Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser's visit to Meroe, where the iconic pyramids are being restored by the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project (QSAP).
Film plays a central role in the exhibition visitors will encounter film clips, stills, models and costume elements from Hollywood films including the 1924 classic The Thief of Bahgdad, Cleopatra (1963), as noted above, Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and the blockbuster Star Wars movies. Classics of world cinema include Zaineb Hates the Snow (2016) directed by Tunisian film-maker Kaother Ben Hania and Taste of Cherry (1997) by the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. The Portrait of Suleyman the Magnificent from the workshop of Titian (1843-1844) will be on display as one of the star objects exploring the enduring legacies of global encounters, alongside other significant paintings such as Mariano Fortuny y Marsal's Arab Before a Tapestry, Jose Tapiro y Baro's A Moroccan Bride (1860), and Rudolf Ernst's Outside the Selim Türbe, Istanbul (1885). Objects capturing the ideas, creativity and technological advances that travelled across the Indian Ocean world include the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), a rock crystal chess piece from 10-11th century CE Egypt and one of the first printed editions of the Book of Wonders by Marco Polo (1529).
The central space in the exhibition is dedicated to the architecture of the new museum. This space is curated by Herzog & de Meuron and presents the design process through wall projections and a large floor installation showcasing working models, concept images and material samples. The room will also include a newly commissioned model of the Museum.
The exhibition includes two interactive programming spaces. The first is the Lusail Museum Think Tank space, which reflects the plans of the future Museum to foster new ideas through interactions between audiences and philosophers, sociologists, historians, and diplomats. While the exhibition is on view, visitors will be invited to contemplate and challenge perceptions of the Arab world presented in the artworks on display in the exhibition. The second space will present a changing programme of short films from DFI's archive that speak to the themes of the exhibition and future Museum.
The Lusail Museum will be located on Al Maha Island, Lusail, complementing the newly opened Lusail Wonderland Park developed in association with Estithmar Ventures and IMG, in collaboration with Qatar Tourism and Qatari Diar.
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