The Islamic Art Museum was commissioned to I.M. Pei by the Emir of Qatar. Construction finished in 2006, and the museum opened to the public in December, 2008.
The museum is one of Pei’s best projects after the Louvre renovation and the pyramid.
The geometric patterns of islamic patterns fit so perfectly I.M. Pei’s general motif and his structural design for this museum. The patterns, used sparingly in the modern crisp building, are quite elegant. When one comes into the interior, one is confronted with the backside of a grand staircase, which is quite sculptural. Beyond that on center is the Doha skyline “living room,” which frames the new downtown tower district and allows visitors to have a cup of tea and enjoy the space.
Within the lobby is a five-story space that a large circular chandelier and the dome at the center–quite beautiful. The cafe is also beautiful and has a wonderful yellow-tinted glass, as does the new fifth floor restaurant, which is visible from below (but not yet open). The galleries are on floors 1-3. Of course above the ground floor level are wonderfully detailed spaces filled with wood, granite, and metal that form the backdrop for the art exhibits.
The gallery is designed to be quite flexible to allow for changeability of tables and casework. The exhibit designer detailed the casework to fit into the architecture and assist with clean flow from one gallery to the other. The design allows visitors to cleanse their pallette before encountering the new gallery. The galleries are kept at a low light level and the lighting is very tightly integrated into the spaces and each and every artifact.