Forty Public Artworks to Convert Qatar into an Open Air Museum

With the FIFA World Cup 2022 just 100 days ahead, Qatar Museums is upping its game launching one of the world’s most ambitious public art programmes with more than 40 additional public art works to be exhibited around the country.

Qatar will be transformed into an outdoor art museum experience with installations by Jeff Koons, Ugo Rondinone, KAWS, Rashid Johnson, Yayoi Kusama, Katharina Fritsch, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Suki Seokyeong Kang, Shilpa Gupta, Shezad Dawood, Shua’a Ali, Faraj Daham, Shouq Al Mana and Salman Al Malek among other international, regional and Qatari artists, according to Qatar Museums.

Richard Serra East-West/West-East, 2014 Weathering Steel, 14.7 to 16.7 metres in height (each) Brouq Nature Reserve, Zekreet, Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Damien Hirst, The Miraculous Journey, 2013, Bronze, 4 to 11 metres in height, Sidra Medical Centre Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Even before Qatar’s sports hosting abilities became world popular, Qatar and its ruling family’s art acquisition programme was renowned with some high profile, highly priced artworks like The Card Players by Paul Cézanne said to be acquired for $250 million, a masterpiece that is supposedly the most expensive work ever sold. According to Artnet, the ruling family, once labelled the “modern-day equivalents of the Medicis were applauded for its commitment to collections and the establishment of museums in a region bereft of cultural institutions.”

Richard Serra, 7 (detail), 2011, Steel, 24.6 metres MIA Park Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums

Louise Bourgeois, France-United States Maman, 2012, Marble, bronze and stainless steel, 9.1 metres, Qatar National Convention Center, Qatar Foundation Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Making art a part of everyday life, Qatar became one of the first countries in the Gulf to create a comprehensive contemporary public art programme.  To date, the programme has grown to encompass approximately 70 works by more than 60 artists from Qatar, across the MENA region, and around the world.

Current highlights include Richard Serra’s 7 at MIA Park and East/West-West/East  in Zekreet, Tom Claassen’s Falcon (2021) at Hamad International Airport, A Blessing in Disguise by Ghada Al Khater at the Fire Station, Bruce Nauman’s Untitled (Trench, Shafts, Pit, Tunnel and Chamber) at M7, Flag of Glory by Ahmed Al Bahrani at the National Museum of Qatar, Untitled (Lamp/Bear) by Urs Fischer at Hamad International Airport, Gandhi’s Three Monkeys by Subodh Gupta at Katara Cultural Village, Maman by Louise Bourgeois at the Qatar National Convention Centre, The Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst at Sidra Medical Centre, Bench by Saloua Raouda Choucair at MIA Park, Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi at Hamad International Airport, and many others.

Urs Fischer, Untitled Lamp/Bear, 2005-2006 Bronze, 7 x 6.5 x 7.5 metres Hamad International Airport (HIA), Retail Gallery Departure Hall Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums

Subodh Gupta, Gandhi’s Three Monkeys, 2012, Bronze and steel; Balaclava head 200 x 131 x 155 cm; Gas mask head:184 x 140 x 256 cm; Helmet head: 175 x 125 x 150 cm Katara Cultural Village Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums

And now continuing on this programme, as part of Qatar Creates, a new programme of Qatar Museums — the year-round national cultural movement that curates, promotes, and celebrates the diversity of cultural activities in the country, has announced a programme of new and commissioned public artworks by celebrated Qatari, regional and international artists that will be presented throughout Doha and the nation. Right from its international airport, from the Qatari desert to the bustling Souq Waqif, in the coming weeks, the nation’s public spaces will be transformed into a vast outdoor art museum experience featuring more than 100 public artworks, which will be on view for locals and the 1.5 million visitors who are expected to travel to Doha for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

Daniel Arsham (b. 1980, United States) Sports Ball Galaxy, 2012 Cast Hydro-stone, 6.3 x 7.8 m 3 3 2 1 Qatar Olympics Sports Museum Photo copyright Iwan Baan, Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Isa Genzken (b. 1948, Germany) Two Orchids, 2015 Stainless steel, aluminum; Tall Orchid Dimensions: 2.4 x 2 x 10.5 m; Short Orchid Dimensions: 2 x 2.1 x 8.7 m Qatar National Theatre Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, said: “The addition of 40 new, major works of public art this fall is a significant milestone for Qatar’s public art programme. Public art is one of our most prominent demonstrations of cultural exchange, where we present works from artists of all nationalities and backgrounds.”

Shouq Al Mana, Egal, 2022 Stainless steel, Various dimensions between 3.5m – 4.5m high (5 pieces) Lusail Marina Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Another Qatari artist, Faraj Daham, The Ship, 2022 Wood, concrete 3 x 1.5 x 10 m, Al Janoub Stadium Photo copyright Iwan Baan, Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

“From the arrivals at the best airport in the world — Hamad International Airport — to every neighbourhood in our nation, public art is there to make your experience unique. These works vary in size and form, and they encompass a wide range of subject matter, but all further our mission to make art more accessible, engage our publics, celebrate our heritage, and embrace the cultures of others. More importantly, artists from every corner of the world — representing all continents — have been invited to express their artistic creativity with our very own diverse population. Our longstanding commitment to public art is visible across Qatar, and we hope these works will be welcomed by locals and enhance the experiences had by the millions of visitors we expect to welcome to Doha this year.”

Simone Fattal, Gates to the Sea, 2019 Bronze, H 340 x 240 x 240 cm National Museum of Qatar Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Subodh Gupta, Spooning, 2009 Stainless Steel M7, 2nd floor, Msheireb Downtown Doha Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums.

Faye Toogood (b. 1977, United Kingdom) Clay Court, 2022 Jesmonite, cement composite Various Dimensions Qatar National Theatre Photo copyright Iwan Baan. Courtesy of Qatar Museums

Qatar Museums is working with various entities across the city on Qatar’s public art programme including the Hamad International Airport, the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy, and the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) to install artworks in a variety of both highly trafficked and unexpected public spaces designed to surprise and delight passersby including parks, shopping areas, educational and athletic facilities, Hamad International Airport and Q-Rail stations, as well as stadiums that will host the World Cup matches.

Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, Qatar Museums’ Director of Public Art, said: “Doha is a vibrant destination, and adding more than 40 new public art installations will further transform the city into a dynamic urban canvas that serves to spark conversations and provide sources of inspiration for all.  Qatar Museums’ public art programme, more than anything else, serves as a reminder that art is all around us, not confined to museums and galleries, and can be enjoyed and celebrated whether you are going to work, or school, or the desert or the beach.”