Taking advantage of soon-to-be-vacant prime waterfront property, Qatar Museums has launched an international search for an architect who can help transform the flour mills near the Museum of Islamic Art into a vast art gallery.
The project, dubbed “the Art Mill,” will be located inside buildings near the existing port. They are currently in use by Qatar Flour Mills, but that company is soon moving to new, purpose-built facilities.
The warehouses and silos sit at the tip of a short peninsula at the end of the Corniche, and are also near the under-construction National Museum of Qatar.
The plan is to reinvent the 80,000 sq meter industrial site into gallery and exhibition space with a “contemporary design,” while also including education and conference facilities, conservation and storage areas and dedicated family spaces.
The surrounding outside space will also be landscaped to integrate with the gallery.
From now until June 26, a global design competition led by Malcolm Reading Consultants is being held to find 20 architects to comprise an initial long-list.
Eligible architects should have at least seven years’ experience, but can be up-and-coming or well-established, according to the design concept.
The list will eventually be whittled down to five architects, who will each be asked to draw up detailed designs for the conversion and extension of the structures, before a final winner is announced, likely by Spring 2016.
According to Art Newspaper, work could begin in 2017, to create what was described in a statement as “one of the world’s leading art galleries.”
QM’s Acting Chief Executive Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud also said in a statement:
“Dynamic, sustainable, contemporary and true to its social and cultural responsibilities, it (the gallery) will reflect the importance and setting of an historic site at the heart of the port and city.”
This will not be the first time QM has repurposed defunct industrial buildings and given them a new lease of life.
In March this year, the first phase of the Fire Station opened. The former Civil Defense headquarters was converted into a creative hub for young artists and also has gallery space.
There are no details yet about the collections to be displayed in the Art Mill when it finally opens to the public. However, its scale will be significant – much larger than the Tate Modern on London’s Southbank, which currently stands at 34,000 sq meters including its Turbine Hall.
In recent years, Qatar has reportedly bought several pieces of famous artwork, although QM has not confirmed these acquisitions.
For example, in February, a 1892 oil painting of two Tahitian girls by Paul Gauguin set a record for the most expensive artwork ever purchased. Two art dealers told New York Times at the time that the piece was bought by Qatar.
Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) belonged to a Swiss collector and had been on loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland for nearly fifty years.
Years earlier, in 2011, QM reportedly spent some $250 million for Cezanne’s The Card Players – more than double the price that had ever been paid for a single work of art on auction.
While the piece has yet to be publicly displayed, it is expected that it will feature in the National Museum, which is scheduled to open to the public next year.
Qatar was also rumored to have bought Pablo Picasso’s famous Child With a Dove painting, which sold for $74.5 million. The artwork had been in the UK for 85 years and was sold privately at a Christie’s auction in 2012.