Sunday, May 3, 2009

Doha: Museum of Islamic Art

Recently, I visited the newly opened Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) designed by I.M. Pei in Doha, Qatar.

(View of the MIA with the modern highrise area of Doha in the background. The al Corniche promenade runs in a half-moon along the water connecting the two areas. A good 10K+ run.)

I have an interest in architecture and spherical panorama photography. Previous entries on the topic have included:
  • The Getty Museum in Los Angeles. (Blog entry here.)
  • MIT's Stata Center designed by Frank Gehry. (Off-blog webpage here.)

A close-up of the main building taken by my friend Majd Sakr:

The museum cuts a rather lonely and austere figure on Doha's skyline:

Inside, the building is simply magnificent, and a feast for the eyes (and camera):

View of the interior looking up.

Of course, there are interesting artifacts on display:

including a view of the world that's hard to decipher unless you are familiar with the Middle East:
But for me, the museum itself was as interesting as the displays. The museum simply abounds with interesting touches. Here is an exterior elevator (plan view, i.e. looking down):
Stairs with Japanese-style lighting both recessed and protruding, making for an interesting perspective effect:
A detail of the ceiling viewed through a fisheye lens:

More bendy stuff from my fisheye lens:

On my second visit to the museum, I was graciously permitted to quickly use my tripod after the museum closed. This allowed me to take my 360° spherical panorama shots from the three different positions shown below:

For your viewing pleasure, you should click and view these specially prepared .mov files using Apple's free QuickTime player. You can rotate around 360° in all directions, as well as zoom in and out (shift and control keys in MacOSX). In particular, look up at the ceiling.

Pano #1
Pano #2
Pano #3
(Special thanks to Merridy Wilson at the MIA for making these images possible.)

One of my favorite images:

Since I stayed after closing time (5:30pm) to take the spherical panoramas, the sun happened to be setting as I left. A final view of the museum and sunset:


  1. This is a remarkable look at a different society's art.

    Very enjoyable.

  2. This beautiful lonely figure comes alive on the last two pictures. Great pieces of art work! I mean the pictures.

  3. Hello there thanks for sharing this amazing museum. Could I use your photos to share this museum on The photos will be credit to your blog with a link.

  4. Thanks - you rock. The article will be up this week.

  5. You make me miss doha!