After three years of work, a landmark palace that is the centerpiece of Qatar’s under-construction National Museum has been successfully restored, officials have announced.
Home to the former ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani, the structure is located in the heart of the museum, which is tentatively expected to open next year.
Al Thani is widely regarded as the father of modern Qatar and lived in the palace from when it was built in the early 20th century until it became the country’s former National Museum in 1975.
Experts from Berlin-based firm Ziegert, Roswag, Seiler Architekten Ingenieure oversaw the restoration of the old palace.
In a statement, Qatar Museums said that natural materials and techniques that would have been employed at the time of the building’s initial construction were employed to maintain its authenticity.
As part of the project, a team of local artisans was trained over the course of the restoration and worked closely with the project team, learning how to treat wood, restore ornaments and painted ceilings and methods for restoring historic plaster surfaces.
Described by QM as a “monument to an historic way of life in Qatar,” the palace has been restored and refurbished numerous times since it was built.
“When completed, the futuristic, iconic, world-class design of the National Museum will perfectly complement the Palace,” Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, chairperson of QM, added in a statement.
Many of the Doha’s older buildings, particularly in the Msheireb and former downtown area, have already been razed or are ear-marked for demolition as the old town is being remodeled.
However, some iconic structures around town have been saved from the bulldozers. For example, QM oversaw the redevelopment of the old Civil Defense building in Wadi Al Sail into the Fire Station – an artists’ hub and gallery that opened earlier this year.
And earlier this month, the authority announced plans to repurpose the old flour mills by the Museum of Islamic Art to create a massive museum and gallery space that will be known as the Art Mill.
Museum under construction
The palace will sit as the center of the new National Musuem of Qatar, which has been designed by French architect Jean Nouvel to resemble the crystal structure of a desert rose.
The plans were first unveiled in March 2010, and Qatar Museums told Doha News that an opening date of 2016 is still forecast.
However, a QM representative previously said that once the structure is built, it would take another six months for cement “off-gassing” – the release of emissions trapped inside the facility – to occur.
And installation of artwork is expected to take an additional year after that.
When finally complete, the museum aims to represent the past, present and future of Qatar, and include several donated pieces of artwork and jewelry.
The 40,000 square meter museum will have 8,000 square meters of permanent exhibition space and a further 2,000 square meters for temporary, rotating exhibitions. Other facilities will include:
- A 220-seat auditorium;
- Two retail outlets, two restaurants and a café;
- A dedicated food forum, preserving culinary traditions;
- A research center and laboratories; and
- A park filled with indigenous plants.
Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal previously said it has already undertaken works in the surrounding area in preparation for the museum’s opening, including redeveloping and widening the roads in the vicinity to improve access and reduce congestion.