Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sheikh Faisal's Museum

First a brief update. There was a bit of discussion about my article on the cleaning man because it got picked up on doha.tumblr. Just want everyone to know that yes he is getting paid more and I also gave him back-pay for the first time he showed up.

So, this weekend I went with the Qatar Natural History Group to Sheikh Faisal's Museum, including a lunch. It had been over two years since I've seen it so I figured why not.

The museum is well known for its extensive collection of, well, almost anything. Weapons, carpets, animal skins, calligraphy, fossils, cars, furniture old photographs, there's all sorts of stuff. There was so much stuff that the museum was fairly crowded with items. Over the last couple of years to shake has expanded the museum space significantly, something like five times as much, so was able to put more things on display. At times the place was rather like a maze, go one way and you might miss a doorway that leads to an entire wing of items. A lot of the fun was just wandering around to see what was there because you just never knew what you were going to run into. For example:

• a steam engine car
• a 19th century Persian carpet taken from the Shah's palace
• 9th century Syrian pottery
• an F1 car
• a detailed family tree of the Al-Thani family, compiled by some British source that would give descriptions such as "cheerful" to various family members
• a confession booth from a church (I'd like to know how he got that)
• a camel howdah (sort of a small tent that would sit on top of a camel and people would stay in it while the camel moved)
• fossils dated from 250 million-years ago
• full-size Arabic boats (all displayed indoors)
• stuffed falcons
• abstract paintings
• a small collection of Jewish memorabilia
• the largest collection of Yemeni and Omani daggers I've ever seen
• a carpet with famous leaders from history, including Moses and Napoleon (??)
• A photo of two camels mating
... and so on

Just to give you an idea of how big the galleries are lunch was served in one of the exhibition rooms and there was enough space for 130 of us plus a buffet.

I really suggest to anyone in the area to visit it if they get a chance, it would be great for whiling away a summer afternoon. If you're a tourist be warned that it's about 25 km outside of Doha, but close to the camel racing track. Make sure you have a good idea where it is before heading out.


Anonymous said...

Enough space for 130 of us and we occupied only a small fraction of the gallery.

Sprinkle said...

No pictures?

Glen McKay said...

Good point. For some reason I couldn't find pictures from this trip, not sure why, so I've now added some pictures from a previous trip, before the expansion.