Social media pages and channels such as Instagram (IG) have become virtual art galleries for enthusiasts to explore as museums and heritage sites in Qatar have remained closed amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. In order to ensure the safety and welfare of visitors and staff, Qatar Museums (QM) also cancelled until further notice a number of its initiatives and activities, scheduled two months ago.
However, QM found a way for people staying or working from home to virtually visit galleries and museums such as the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ), and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, among others.
A virtual tour of Piccasso’s Studio exhibition on Doha Fire Station's Instagram page
Many artists in the country are also using digital platforms to showcase their works, attracting a wider audience locally and internationally.
The Doha Fire Station’s IG account gives viewers a virtual tour of Piccasso’s Studio exhibition (located at its garage gallery), showcasing exceptional collections of Pablo Picasso – one of the greatest artists in the 20th century.
Virtual visitors can view artworks ranging from landmark paintings to sculpture, drawings, engravings and ceramic works from the Musee National Picasso-Paris collections. “They are the works that Pablo Picasso kept in his studios, the works from which he did not want to be separated from. They also bear a close connection to his development of iconic movements in modern art history. The exhibition is an intimate examination of his places of creation,” the Doha Fire Station noted.
Doha Fire Station also posts videos of ‘Artists Working from Home’ such as Muna al-Bader, Hadeer Omar, Ameera al-Aji, and Maryam al-Maadhadhi on IG as they share their talents and inspire others. Meanwhile, Mathaf’s ‘Artist of the Week’ features several renowned artists and their collections, which can be viewed in the museum’s permanent exhibition. These include Dia al-Azzawi, Baya Mahieddine, Mohamed Melehi, and Yousef Ahmad, among others.
The Qatar Children’s Museum, developed by QM, continues to engage many families and children with its live online workshops, which incorporate playing and learning under the supervision of museum staff. Meanwhile, Phone Art Qatar, an art initiative that forms part of @pa.global, aims to introduce mobile phones as a contemporary art medium. Its recent IG posts include old photos related to Ramadan.
NMoQ, inspired by the ‘Qatar Natural Environments’ and ‘Life in Al Barr (desert)’ permanent galleries, announced Friday on its IG account that it is “working on a virtual exhibition that will explore how living beings and creatures take shelter in times of uncertainty with the goal of survival.”
“Today, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic we are staying at home and practicing social distancing to protect the country and its inhabitants from the spread of this contagious virus. We invite you to take part in this virtual exhibition by sharing a photograph, illustration or sketch of your adaptation and/or habitat while in self-quarantine,” NMoQ said.
NMoQ also posts videos on IG about history related to the Covid-19 pandemic such as the1918 Influenza and the collapse of the share prices on the New York Stock Exchange on October 29, 1929, which triggered a global economic recession and a significant drop in pearl demand. Local artists such as Bouthayna al-Muftah and Mohamed al-Suwaidi, among others, have also been constantly updating their posts, showcasing some of their works and activities while at home.