The show displays an exciting archeology o Qatar inpersonal collections o paraphernalia, culled rom variousQatari collectors, and illuminates the romance that theolden days continue to shadow over the creative uture o thecountry.Mal Lawal may ollow the conventional two-sectionormat: cultural artiacts and works o art; however, the lineshere are blurred invariably to orm one bite-sized platormthat displays and shares private collections o antiqueobjects and pieces as well as Qatari art works with a widegroup o visitors. Art curator Hala Al Khalia, EducationManager in the Public Art Department o QMA and anesteemed artist hersel, sees the two parts as diametric yetcompletely complimentary: “Old vs new, collections vscontemporary, and the dialog they bring together.”The rst part o the exhibition houses vintage objects,including a generous serving rom the private collection o HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalia Al Thanirepresented by priceless treasures o Arabic and Islamicheritage. Visitors are ofered spectacular views o vintageblack and white photos, Persian miniaturepaintings, and ramed
manuscripts o Ottoman Sultans or traveling pilgrims.The majority o the reestanding glasscases in the rst ew rooms o theexhibition are dedicated to precioustalismans o the Islamic Golden Age (withmany examples rom the Emir’scollection). Here, museum visitors take atrip back to the period when the Muslimworld became an intellectual center orscience, astronomy, philosophy, educationand medicine, including ophthalmology.Islamic medicine is represented by objectslike painstakingly drawn anatomy bookswith diagrams o the human body, pairedwith ancient surgical tools to make anoperation. There is a medical kit dedicatedto the art o
, which ismale circumcision carried out as anIslamic rite. Alongside, star gazers travel leaps and bounds inthe Arab heritage o astronomy by way o books, calendarsand ancient charts that calculate the phases o the moon.Paradoxical juxtapositions can be viewed in the gallerywhere a beautiul painting depicting Islam’s contribution tothe arts with writers and artists o the 17th century AD andscholarly books about the Arabian Nights and Alexander theGreat are displayed alongside battle scenes and warpaintings and the Battle o Karbalah.The room dedicated soley to amber is truly breathtaking;the clarity o the vast panoplies o singular objects, such asprayer beads, makes a successul and bold statement. Theefect is truly incredible, when masses o prayer beads arepaired with amber cigarette holders and knie handles areexhibited in long slim vitrines. This is where a museum-goercan “ooh and ah” over the variety o items and compare therichness and diference o the manuactured artiactscontrasted side by side with jumbo chunks o unrenedambergris material.Moving on, various domestic items dated as late as the1940s are on display. Standing wooden tripods steadygoatskin troughs or butter churning; wood and camel skinbaby backpacks are the surprising ancestors o today’sBaby Bjorn baby carriers. There are wood and metal shingpaddles and tools, paying homage to Qatar’s seaaring past,alongside kitchen bowls, wool knitting tools, war armor andanimal skins.However, as we time-travel along the exhibit hall, thecontent suddenly modernizes, mirroring lie’s changes herein Qatar in the late 1940s. The pioneering photography o veteran Qatari journalist Nasser Mohamed Al Othman is ondisplay as he pictorially documents the 1949 – early 1950soil and gas discovery in Qatar. In conjunction, items thatwere used to practice large-scale photography and othersuch technologies at the time in the country are alsodisplayed.At this point in the exhibition, public submissions romcitizens and residents o Qatar begin, eaturing personalobject collections that were solicited by curators in a call orentries last spring. This, in act, is a joyous celebration o thecreativity o the everyday Arab. One can argue that thecollections shown are equal to, or even as creative as some o the ne art on display. It’s sheer un to mistake therandomness o entire cubicle lined with careully archivedmonetary notes (collector: Hassan Al Naimi) that happen toshare the same serial numbers, or a gallery-basedconceptual art installation.The only aw in the exhibition is that the stories o someo the collections are much more interesting than theiractual physical displays in the hall. More attention could bepaid to the mise-en-scene or the objects. While it makesperect curatorial sense to present these collections ingroupings by personal ownership, the casual ormatunpleasantly resembles commercial trade show booths. The
MAL LAwAL MEANS“OLD DAYS” INARAbIc, bUt It EYEStO DEvELOp thEfUtURE Of thEQAtARI ARt ScENEbY cELEbRAtINGtRADItION,cULtURE AND thEDIALEct Of AvIbRANt QAtARIERA.
"Display of colorinfusedkitchenware in themuseum cafe"