With FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 fast approaching, Qatar Museums (QM) has announced an expansive public art program that will be gradually rolled out not just in the capital city of Doha but throughout the entirety of the diminutive emirate on the Persian Gulf. As envisioned by the QM, the nation’s public spaces—parks, shopping zones, rail stations, hotel plazas, cultural institutions, Hamad International Airport, and, of course, the eight World Cup 2022 host stadiums—will be transformed into what QM described as a “vast outdoor art museum” just ahead of the soccer-related festivities anticipated to attract one million-plus visitors.
The launch of the public art program comes just months after QM announced a trio forthcoming museums for Doha: a contemporary art campus deigned by Alejandro Aravena, a Herzog & de Meuron-designed Orientalist art museum, and OMA’s Qatar Auto Museum. In March, QM debuted the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympics and Sports Museum, designed by Barcelona-based architect Joan Sibina, at Khalifa International Stadium.
Comprised of more than 100 medium-spanning artworks, the FIFA-timed public art extravaganza will feature 40 new and commissioned pieces joining a sizable trove of works—monumental sculptures, light installations, and more—already on view in the public realm throughout Doha and beyond. As noted by QM in a press announcement, Qatar was among the first Gulf states to establish a public art program, which currently includes works from Richard Serra, Tom Claaseen, Bruce Nauman, Louise Bourgeois, Urs Fischer, Subodh Gupta, and others. Artists hailing from Qatar and across the Middle East—Adel Abidin, Ahmed Al Bahrani, Shouq Al-Mana, Monira Al Qadiri, and Shua’a Al Muftah to name just are a few—are well represented in the country’s public art collection.
New works from international art heavyweights from outside the region will also be unveiled in the coming weeks, if they haven’t already. These artists include Olafur Eliasson, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, KAWS, Rashid Johnson, Ernesto Neto, Lawrence Weiner, Faye Toogood, Katharina Fritsch, and others.
“Qatar Museums’ public art programme, more than anything else, serves as a reminder that art is all around us, not confined to museums and galleries, and can be enjoyed and celebrated whether you are going to work, or school, or the desert or the beach,” said Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, Qatar Museums’ Director of Public Art, in a statement.
Earlier this summer, photographer Iwan Baan captured Qatar’s existing public artworks, including some newly installed commissions. Just a small taste of what’s in store for FIFA World Cup 2022 attendees can be found in the gallery at the top of this page, with the location of each work listed in its respective caption.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicks off November 21 with a match between Senegal and the Netherlands at the skullcap-esque Al Thumama Stadium near Hamad International Airport.