The Best Museum in Doha

Doha boasts two world-class museums: The National Museum of Qatar and The Museum of Islamic Art. Each is well worth a visit, but which should you pick if you’re short on time? Here’s a breakdown that might help you choose.

Best for Great Art

The Museum of Islamic Art

This is an easy win: The Museum of Islamic Art punches well above its weight for a country of this size in amazing artwork. There’s a little bit (and sometimes a lot) of everything here: ceramics, glassware, carpets, textiles, scientific instruments, weapons, housewares, jewelry, editions of the Quran, and even some contemporary art.

Best for Kids

The National Museum of Qatar

This museum is filled with things that might appeal to the younger set, from videos and soundscapes to models and animal dioramas.

There are even separate rooms for kids to engage in their own mini-journeys of discovery, and the giant gallery that focuses on Qatar’s natural environment is particularly kid-friendly.

Best for Cultural Immersion

National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum introduces visitors to its cultural history in galleries such as Life Al Barr (The Desert) and Life on the Coast.

There is even an exhibit that focuses on traditional craftsmanship.

Best Architecture

I know this will be controversial (Jean Nouvel vs. I.M. Pei), but art is subjective, so here goes …

Exterior: National Museum of Qatar

I just love that this museum is designed to look like a desert rose crystal.

Interior: Museum of Islamic Art

Best for Seeing The World

Museum of Islamic Art

Qatar is a small country, and there’s so much to explore beyond it. The Museum of Islamic Arts does just that — for example, below clockwise, from top left) you’ll find art, texts, and games from Spain, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Rome, North Africa, and Turkey.

Best View

Museum of Islamic Art

This one is easy — the photo speaks for itself.

Best for History Buffs

National Museum of Qatar

The final few galleries of this museum focus on Qatar’s history, from the country’s first rise to economic power as a pearl-diving center to its eventual oil-fueled development into a nation-state. I grew a bit weary of the celebration of men (no women feature at all, apparently, in Qatari history), but there’s a lot to learn here.

Best Cafe & Gift Shop

Museum of Islamic Art

The cafe on the first floor of this museum serves up lovely tea and an amazing view out over the water.

For gift shops, I preferred the spacious room at the Museum of Islamic Art to the somewhat cramped and dark (though aesthetically pleasing if you step back and look at the architecture) shop at the National Museum.

Best Overall

Museum of Islamic Art

This is also a controversial category, and the answer to what’s best will ultimately be determined by what you’re looking for. But my vote here was an easy one, because I found the collection and curation at the Museum of Islamic Art simply remarkable. I hope to get back there someday!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s