From a rugged northern desert to an urban marina, a hotel foyer to an airport terminal, a shopping center to a hospital, a theatre to a museum, art will be installed across Qatar. This, at least, is the aim of Qatar Museums, the government institution founded in 2005 and tasked with supercharging the Gulf state’s cultural status.
Although the building of starchitect-designed museums has drawn the most attention—Rem Koolhaas, Jean Nouvel, and Jacques Herzog all have projects in the country—funding public artworks has also been central to Qatar Museums’ mission.
In the run up to the FIFA World Cup, such ambitions have been amplified by Qatar Creates, the country’s very own year of culture, comprising 300 different experiences, for which former soccer star David Beckham is the public face. The goal is for the more than 100 public artworks to form part of the Qatar World Cup’s legacy, enduring long after the expected 1.5 million visitors return home.
“As tourists visit this region of Qatar to experience these new art installations they will learn about Qatar’s natural landscape and history and come away with a better understanding of the diversity of Qatari culture,” said Qatar Museums chairwoman Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, in a recent press statement.
And as with its museums and stadia, Qatar has commissioned some of the most celebrated names in the art world to create site-specific installations. Olafur Eliasson has placed giant rings and mirrors in the desert. Fourteen bronze fetal sculptures by Damien Hirst line the road to a hospital. Sculptures by KAWS, Tom Otterness, and Urs Fischer greet visitors at the Hamad International Airport. One of Richard Serra’s most expansive works stands in the Brouq nature reserve. The list goes on.
See some of Qatar’s most eye-catching public installation artworks below.