The global spread of the coronavirus is disrupting travel. Stay up to date on the science behind the outbreak>>

All eyes on the new National Museum of Qatar

With its out-there architecture, the arrival of Doha’s latest attraction has turned heads in the art world

By Connor McGovern
Published 10 May 2019, 11:09 BST
National Museum of Qatar
National Museum of Qatar
Photograph by Getty Images

A UFO party in the desert? A heap of oversized crockery? Not quite. According to architect Jean Nouvel, the inspiration behind the new National Museum of Qatar is actually the desert rose, a intricate type of gypsum crystal formed in arid climes. Whatever impressions Doha’s all-star attraction gives off, it can easily rival the other recent, extravagant openings in the Middle East in terms of its scale and ambition.

Enveloping a 20th-century palace at its heart, the complex sprawls across 430,000sq ft at the end of the Corniche, and took nearly two decades to conceive and complete.

But architecture aside, it’s a bold addition to Qatar’s cultural arsenal; an attempt to define the country’s identity and celebrate its heritage and future. Inside the cluster of interlocking discs (which cleverly provide pockets of shade), there’s a mile’s worth of exhibitions that trace the country’s past, from desert fossils right up to the exploration of natural gas. Immersive films, animations and galleries are also installed to help bring artefacts and exhibits to life, touching on human topics such as life in the harsh, hostile desert and the waning tradition of pearl fishing.

sq ft of space makes up the new museum in Doha

panels form the huge angular roof 

(£331m) was the estimated cost of the museum’s construction 

Three more to see... new modish museums

Having shaped much of 20th century design, this year Bauhaus turns 100. To celebrate, the newly opened Bauhaus-Museum Weimar is championing all its ground-breaking modernism.

Giudecca will become the Italian city’s permanent art district, thanks to its starring role in this year’s Biennale (11 May-24 November), when 11 galleries will colour the isle with art.  

The Windermere Jetty Museum’s collection of vessels celebrates the heritage of the region. Most striking, perhaps, is the museum’s copper cladding, whose sheen will change with the Cumbrian weather.

Published in the June 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Follow us on social media 

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Flipboard

Read More

You might also like

A walking tour of Berlin's best museums
How to spend a day in Budapest
How South African communities are giving safari luxe an eco overhaul
Green and serene: how electric vehicles are transforming Africa's safari experience
Explore Celtic heritage on a one-week road trip from Wales to Ireland

Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Newsletter
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2021 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved