Today I finally got to see the inside of the Doha Islamic Museum - and was seriously impressed. While I appreciate the exterior of the Museum and the interplay of the shadows on its complex geometric blocks, it doesn't really take my breath away.
The interior, on the other hand, is breathtaking, and must be a photographer's dream. As you enter, the atrium opens up high above you, with lines everywhere merging into each other, while a huge window offers a superb view of the Doha skyline.
We chose to limit our visit, viewing a selection of the artefacts rather than trying to take in everything in one go. We have the luxury of being able to make return visits!
After entering the building, grab yourself an interactive media player. (You'll need to submit your id until you return it.) Along with an audio introduction, there are numbers to go with around 30 of the exhibits - when you enter these numbers you can hear the story behind it.
There were several exhibits that caught my eye on this first trip. One was an ancient Quran - thought to have been written only a few years after the death of Mohammed.
The survival of the manuscript was due to the nature of its parchment - vellum, made of animal skin scaped clean.
The Quran was not compiled until after the death of Mohammed, and this Quran must have been one of the first - perhaps compiled from the recitations of the Mohammed's followers. To be in the presence of such history felt awesome.
Another fascinating piece was a painting of the Virgin Mary with a young baby Jesus. This may seem like a strange exhibit for an Islamic Musuem, until you read the calligraphy: There is No God but God: the first part of the Muslim profession of faith. The painter had been a Christian, albeit one strongly influenced by Islamic calligraphy.
In adding the calligraphy, he expresses a core belief of both religions - that there is only one God.
The Book of Secrets
The third one which really intrigued me was the Book of Secrets - about the Results of Thoughts. This gives the lie to our belief that mechanical genius is a recent thing, with writer, Andluscian engineer Al-Muradi, describing more than 30 machines of ancient times, from war machines to water clocks. Much of the 11th century book has been decoded by a team of scientists, and an interactive digital version of the book is available for browsers. The book itself will be on exhibit until February 2009.
The Book of Secrets: DecodingTheHeavens.com
The Museum will be closed on the first day of Eid and Xmas.
Sunday: 10.30 - 17.30
Monday: 10.30 - 17.30
Wednesday: 10.30 - 17.30
Thursday: 10.30 - 17.30
Friday: 14:00 - 20:00
Saturday: 10:30 - 17:30
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