The collection has over 800 manuscripts from Qur’ans from the 7th century to Ottoman works of the 19th century. As well as the Qu’rans, you will see manuscripts on science, literature and religious subjects.
The famous Abbasid Blue Qur’an is one the finest and rarest manuscripts in the Islamic world. The museum displays two of only five known pages from the largest Qur’an in the world, the Timurid Baysunghur Qur’an.
Because of Islam’s stance on figurative art, paintings and plastic arts played a relatively insignificant role in Qatari culture until the discovery of oil in the mid-20th century. Other visual arts such as calligraphy and architecture were the most historically dominant forms of Islamic visual expression. Calligraphy was most prized in society because of its close connection with Islam. Calligraphy is often used in the design of official state logos, for example, the Qatar National Vision 2030 logo.
The development of Islamic calligraphy is strongly tied to the Qur’an; chapters and excerpts from the Qur’an are a common and almost universal text upon which Islamic calligraphy is based. Deep religious association with the Qur’an, as well as suspicion of figurative art as idolatrous, has led calligraphy to become one of the major forms of artistic expression in Islamic cultures. It has also been argued that Islamic calligraphy was motivated less by iconophobia (since, in fact, images were by no means absent in Islamic art) than by the centrality of the notion of writing and written text in Islam.
As Islamic calligraphy is highly venerated, most works follow examples set by well established calligraphers, with the exception of secular or contemporary works. In antiquity, a pupil would copy a master’s work repeatedly until their handwriting was similar. The most common style is divided into angular and cursive, each further divided into several sub-styles.
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
The Museum of Islamic Art (Arabic: متحف الفن الإسلامي,) is a museum located on one end of the seven kilometers long Corniche in the Qatari capital, Doha. As with the architect I. M. Pei’s requirement, the museum is built on an island off an artificial projecting peninsula near the traditional dhow (wooden Qatari boat) harbor. A purpose-built park surrounds the edifice on the Eastern and Southern facades while 2 bridges connect the Southern front facade of the property with the main peninsula that holds the park. The Western and Northern facades are marked by the harbor showcasing the Qatari seafaring past.
The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) represents Islamic art from three continents over 1,400 years. Its collection includes metal work, ceramics, jewelry, wood work, textiles and glass obtained from three continents and dating from the 7th to the 19th century.
Qatar’s ambition to become the most important cultural destination of the Gulf’s area was made concrete in 2008 with the opening of the MIA, the Museum of Islamic Art. It was designed by I.M. Pei, the Chinese-American architect that notably built the glass pyramid for the Louvre in Paris. It is considered to be one of the world’s great museums.
The art scene in Qatar witnessed substantial development in the mid- and late 1950s. Initially, arts were overseen by the Ministry of Education, with art exhibitions being hosted in its facilities. In 1972, the government started providing increased funding to aid the development of arts within the country. The father of modern artists in Qatar is Jassim Zaini (1943-2012) whose work explored diversity in techniques and documented the changing society from traditional local life to a global style. The Qatari Fine Arts Society was established in 1980 with the objective of promoting the works of Qatari artists.In 1998, the National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage was established. Qatar Museums was established in the early 2000s to build and connect all museums and collections in Qatar. Two major museums lead the institution: the Museum of Islamic Art opened in 2008, and the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, opened in Education City Qatar Foundation in 2010.