Monday, January 19, 2009

Museum of Islamic Art

Recently I finally visited the new Museum of Islamic Art and was blown away by the architecture. I know I will spend time with the collections (and have begun to) but could do nothing but follow the architecture. The link in the Blog title leads to an excellent article in the NYT from December 12 that discusses I.M. Pei and the architecture of this museum.

I show a couple photos here and offer links to two slide shows - one of the museum itself and another of buildings I photographed last March in Oman, as a way of demonstrating what everyone has indicated, the remarkable homage to and reflection of Islamic architecture.

There is water everywhere - not only in the reflecting pools and fountains, but the watercourse leading up to the museum entrance seen above and, of course, Pei asked for an artificial island on which the museum could be erected and it was - protecting, he hopes, encroachment on the building in later times. In a desert, water is life.

The views of and around the museum show how incredibly Pei positioned the building in the city of Doha. Through arches one sees the skyline of Doha across the bay (including my favorite copper building with a silver ball - my apartment building, unseen, is within the mass of buildings visible). The pools with fountains on one side of the museum (entered only from inside the museum) are interestingly balanced by the still pools reflecting the arches and the city beyond on the other side. The wooden boats against the backdrop of the cityscape present the harbor of Doha and remind us how far it has come in such a short time.