Jean Nouvel’s thrilling new supersized museum unveiled

National Museum of Qatar in Doha
© Iwan Baan/AFP/Getty
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Hundreds of huge white plates lie scattered along the roadside in the centre of Doha, Qatar, as if someone has had a spectacular accident with a gigantic crockery cupboard. The creamy discs tilt this way and that, colliding with each other in a random muddle along the edge of the highway, forming an otherworldly landscape of canopies, terraces and enigmatic slit windows.

This pile-up of flying saucers is the new National Museum of Qatar, an astonishing creation by French architect Jean Nouvel, and the latest supercharged volley in the Gulf states’ cultural arms race. Two years ago, Nouvel unveiled the glistening upturned colander of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Now he’s back with another gargantuan palace for the Emirates’ arch rival. In its sprawling nearly mile-long loop of galleries, the museum tells the story of how this tiny nation of nomadic
bedouins and pearl divers became, with the discovery of natural gas, the most wealthy country per capita on Earth in just 50 years.

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