As work continues on the long-awaited National Museum of Qatar, a select group of 20 nationals took the first in a short series of “behind-the-scenes” tours around the site this week.
Chosen from more than 500 Qataris who applied, the bloggers and photographers were given a guided visit of the inside and outside of the new museum.
Further tours will be held this weekend and continue through next month, but for now are restricted to Qataris, Culture Pass holders and university students, Qatar Museums said.
Slots to visits filled up within two days after the application process opened a week ago.
Yesterday, QM posted short film clips of its inaugural tour on Instagram and Facebook, showing the group dressed in hard-hats and high-visibility vests.
In a short online interview, photographer Mohammed A. Kamal, who took yesterday’s tour, described the building’s design as “inspiring” while another female visitor said the structure ” encapsulates the essence of Qatar’s past and present.”
Specialist groups have also been given access to the museum site recently. Late last month, civil and architectural engineering students from Qatar University toured the inside and top of the structure.
Photographs issued then show expanses of interlocking discs, designed by architect Jean Nouvel to reflect the natural phenomenon of the desert rose.
The discs make up the complex roof and sides of the buildings, and sections of the interior also appear to be nearing completion.
— Qatar Museums (@Qatar_Museums) March 28, 2016
QM has been quiet about its construction progress and has not publicly given any update on when the museum is expected to be complete.
Two years ago, the authority said the building would open in 2016. However, construction is still underway and a representative previously said that once the building is complete, it needs six months for the cement “off-gassing,” or the release of emissions trapped inside the facility, to occur.
Installation of the artworks would take another year after that, the spokesperson added at the time.
Once complete, the 40,000 sq meter structure will include 8,000 sq meters of permanent exhibition space and a further 2,000 sq meters for temporary, rotating exhibitions. There will also be a 220-seat auditorium, two restaurants and a cafe, two shops, a food forum, a research center and laboratories and a park with indigenous plants, QM said.
QM Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani said last year that part of the museum’s remit would be to capture some of the oral history of Qatar, and that it would accept donations of items for display from members of the community.