Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Yes, it describes me for the last month or so, but it’s also the acronym for the Museum of Islamic Art, one of the most appealing spots in Doha.
The museum has been completed and opened since we’ve lived in Doha, and so I feel a special affinity for it – and with free admission, there’s even more of a sense of “my” museum.  I’ve gone there many times in the last two years, and had begun to lose the awe of the first encounter, simply through growing familiarity.  However, on a recent visit to buy gifts before our trip home, I sat on a bench I hadn’t used before, looked up and saw this:
and was freshly agog with wonder.  How can anyone even DO that, making all those lines and movements and textures happen in space together??

The outside is all clean, calm geometry and shifting planes of light.  
Even before it opened, I was delighted by the many moods of the museum as it reflected in the water and communed with the Arabian sun.
Entering the main atrium, one walks into a vast sculpture, a three-dimensional poetry rife with the genius of I.M. Pei.  The shapes and surfaces are intricately graceful, poised and stately in spite of the stunning complexity of the whole.  The exquisite tension between detail and structure, straight and curved, activity and stasis creates a permeating mood of stimulated wonder.
I go there to look at art, of course, and there are plenty of wonderful pieces from various moments in Islamic history.  But more often I go there to dwell in art, moving through the space and  watching the light transform patterns around me.
I.M. Pei said this museum is one of the few places he has designed that he likes to see with people as well as empty.  The clean lines and neutral shades are particularly suited to Arab dress, and one feels as if one should wear long robes in black or white to complement the surroundings.
Hope you enjoyed the tour of one of my favorite man-made places in the world.