Georgina Adam sums up the actions and ambitions of Qatar in the field of Contemporary Art with a story in the Financial Times. She speculates on the role Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) plays in the international art market as top bidder and also as third-party guarantor. Then there’s the question of the Mathaf, Qatar’s museum of modern Arab art that is hosting a massive Murakami show. But the most import issue seems unresolved, where is Qatar going with all this art buying and exhibition sponsoring?
Mathaf’s director, Wassan Al-Khudhairi, admits that: “We’re sort of learning as we go along, since this is the first modern contemporary art museum in Doha.
“We’re using the first years to try out different types of programming and events that can engage, to see what works and doesn’t work.” Certainly, the Murakami show has been a smash hit, and is packed with visitors.
“Qatar wants to be a cultural hub, and perhaps we should just judge it by what it is doing,” says Dr Venetia Porter, assistant keeper, department of the Middle East, at the British Museum: “It is taking fantastic initiatives in this field.” As for the perceived secrecy about its art purchases, she says: “This is the way in much of the Middle East. You don’t explain, you just wait until you are ready before revealing your hand.”