press release

Mathaf (pronounced Mat-haff, which means "museum" in Arabic) will present exhibitions and programs that explore modern Arab art. Its collection of more than 6,000 works represents major trends and sites of production of modern Arab art, spanning the 1840s to the present. In addition to its collection and special exhibitions, Mathaf's on-site and online programs will reinforce its role as a center for global dialogue, research and scholarship. Through these activities, which are designed to engage artists, writers, students, scholars and the widest possible public audience, Mathaf will contribute to the cultural landscape of the Gulf region, the Middle East and the Arab Diaspora.

The Museum will temporarily occupy a former school building in Doha's Education City, which was re-designed for Mathaf by the French architect Jean-Fran├žois Bodin. QMA will determine its plans for the construction of a future, permanent home for the Museum at a later date.

Mathaf is the outgrowth of more than two decades of activity by QMA's Vice-Chairperson, His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al-Thani. The collection was adopted originally by Qatar Foundation, who safeguarded it for four years before QMA took the Museum on as a Museums Authority project, at which point the current partnership was formed. Overseeing the establishment and opening of Mathaf is QMA Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. As the catalyst of this project, Sheikh Hassan has encouraged creativity in Qatar and throughout the region with his longtime commitment to Arab artists.

Inaugural Exhibition Mathaf will open with Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art on view from December 30 2010: an inaugural exhibition of highlights from the collection, featuring works by more than 100 artists and representing pivotal experiments in aesthetics. Sajjil, an Arabic word meaning the act of recording, initiates a space in which various narratives can be articulated in an effort to allow Arab modern art its historical place within a wider tradition of art history.

The exhibition contributes to a renegotiation of the positions of Arabs to and in modernity. It acknowledges the multiplicity of experiences that form Arab modern art and emphasizes the several common moments that justify a collective identity. It is organized around several themes that overlap and intersect, where ideas cut across chronology, and discontinuity and rupture are part of the story.

Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art is organized and curated by Dr. Nada Shabout, guest curator and consultant, Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute at the University of North Texas; Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Mathaf's Chief Curator and Acting Director; and Deena Chalabi, Mathaf's Head of Strategy.

Opening Programs In addition to the inaugural exhibition featuring works from the collection, Mathaf will present two special opening exhibitions in a new temporary exhibition space located on the grounds of the Museum of Islamic Art. Interventions, on view from December 30, 2010 to May 28, 2011, curated by Dr. Nada Shabout, celebrates the work and artistic development of five major modern Arab artists, who were instrumental in introducing and negotiating modernism in the Arab world, and remain productive and influential today. Interventions features works from Mathaf's permanent collection alongside a newly commissioned work by each artist.

Told/Untold/Retold, on view from December 30, 2010 to May 28, 2011 curated by Sam Bardouil and Till Fellrath, features newly commissioned work by 23 contemporary artists with roots in the Arab world. Through the central theme of storytelling, the exhibition attests to art not as a finished product for contemplation but as a site of navigation to be explored. Told/Untold/Retold will be the first large-scale contemporary art exhibition in Doha.

Inaugural Exhibition
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Interventions
Kurator: Nada Shabout
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Told/Untold/Retold
Kuratoren: Sam Bardouil, Till Fellrath