By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter
Qatar residents can now explore more than 1,200 leading museums and art centres across the globe, including three renowned institutions in the country, while staying home amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
“Visit your favourite museum without leaving home,” said Qatar Museums (QM) Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in her recent (March 23) tweet.
As many cultural institutions have shut their doors to help stop the spread of the pandemic, QM noted that Google Arts & Culture found a way to virtually visit museums such as the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.
Google Arts & Culture, in partnership with different museums worldwide, serves as a digital platform that provides people with easy access to view high-definition pictures of numerous artworks and to showcase a wide range of online exhibits and collections from various artists.
The list also includes the Corning Museum of Glass’s Contemporary Art + Design Wing in western New York, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners (2015); the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City, which temporarily closed on March 13, among other museums and centres.
Virtual visitors can view a large number of works from the three museums in Qatar such as textiles, woodwork, metalwork, jewellery, and coins and glass, “drawn from the treasure-houses of princes to the personal homes of ordinary people.”
Some of these pieces on display online include MIA’s ‘The Schwarzenberg Carpet’ (Iran) dating back to the 16th century; ‘Brass Planispheric Astrolabe created by Hamid ibn al-Khidr al-Khujandi (Iran or Iraq) which dates back to the 10th century; and manuscripts like the ‘Single Volume of Qur’an’ (creator unknown, India) in the early 18th century.
NMoQ displays its exhibits about ‘The History of Trade in Qatar’, featuring ceramics discovered from the Cirebon wreck linking the trade routes between the Middle East and Southeast Asia in the 10th Century CE; and the ‘11 Objects that Changed the World’.
Another highlight at NMoQ’s collections is the ‘Pearl Carpet of Baroda’ (19th century), which was embroidered with more than “1.5mn of the highest quality Gulf pearls, and adorned with precious stones such as emeralds, diamonds and sapphires.”
Meanwhile, Mathaf is showcasing several paintings of various collectors and artists from Qatar and the region such as Yousef Ahmad (Qatar),
Dia Azzawi (Iraq), Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisia), Kamal Boullata (Palestinian), Ibrahim El-Salahi (Sudan), and Abdul Qadir al-Rassam (Iraq), among others.
Either visiting the Google Arts & Culture’s website or using its mobile app, viewers can also have a collection of their preferred artworks virtually with their Google accounts.
Visitors, using the platform’s 360-degree Street View feature, can step inside and see the different areas and sections of partner museums from every angle as if they are literally roaming around these buildings.
The Google platform also allows a virtual tour of renowned museums, art centres and cultural sites such as the Taj Mahal in India, Colosseum in Rome, and Queensland museum in Australia, as well as several historic destinations around the world.
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