Herzog & de Meuron
29 October 2010 - 24 January 2011
Olga Nefedova

The Orientalist Museum (part of Qatar Museums Authority) opened its first exhibition entitled “A Journey into the World of the Ottomans” as part of QMA’s activities celebrating Doha as the Arab Capital of Culture 2010. The exhibition was presented in the temporary gallery of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.

Exhibition architecture for an exhibition on orientalist art in Qatar.

Designing a space for an exhibition of art is not ordinarily the business of an architect. But it is actually one of architecture‘s quintessential tasks: how can one create a space that gives viewers the best possible means of looking at a work of art? Or in more radical terms: how does one create architecture that gives people the best possible means of perceiving the world? What does architecture of that kind feature? In approaching the concrete task of an exhibition on Orientalism, we kept asking ourselves new questions: should we divide the area into several rooms? Would a linear alignment of the rooms be preferable, or a labyrinthine arrangement? Would it make more sense to concentrate everything in one large space? How big is this space? How high is it, and what is the proportion of length to width? What about the light? Should there be daylight or artificial light or even a mixture of both? What should the floors and walls feel like? What kind of flooring is comfortable and yet not as comfortable as our living room at home? Should visitors have the opportunity to sit down? And if, so where? And how far away from the works of art? How are the works hung? By date, by artist, by style, by some other distinction? By subject matter or theme perhaps? As with any task in contemporary architecture, there are no hard and fast rules. Answers to all of these questions vary depending on the location and the type of art. If an exhibition is successful, visitors usually remember only how exciting and interesting the viewing experience was, but rarely the exhibition architecture itself. That is also what should happen in this case, because exhibition architecture should not make a mark as a spectacle with entertainment value in its own right; it should be perfectly self-evident and even natural, enabling visitors to meet up with works of art as intimately and inspiringly as possible.

Herzog & de Meuron, 2010




Qatar Museum Authorities (QMA), Doha, Qatar
Curator, Client Representative
Dr. Olga Nefedova, Chief Curator Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar Museum Authority, Doha, Qatar


Olga Nefedova: A Journey into the World of the Ottomans. Edited by: Olga Nefedova. Exh. Cat. A Journey into the World of the Ottomans. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar. 29 October 2010 – 24 January 2011. Milan, Skira, 2010.

Orientalist Museum launches a Journey into the World of the Ottomans. Review of the eponymous exhibition at Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (29 October 2010 -24 January 2011). In: Islamic Arts Magazine – The International Visual Arts Magazine, 2 November 2010