Manama: A museum dedicated to modern Arab art, is to open in Doha on December 30.

The Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art will present exhibitions featuring pieces from a collection of over 6,000 works. It will also hold programmes that explore modern Arab art from the 1840’s to today.

“In addition to its collection and special exhibitions, Mathaf’s onsite and online programmes will reinforce its role as a centre for global dialogue, research and scholarship," a spokesman said. "Through these activities, which are designed to engage artists, writers, students, scholars and the widest possible public audience, Mathaf will contribute to the cultural landscape of the Gulf region, the Middle East and the Arab diaspora.”

A former school building in Education City, re-designed by French architect Jean-François Bodin, is to become the museum’s temporary home. However, Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) plans to build a permanent structure for the gallery in the future.

Shaikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the QMA chairperson, will oversee the establishment and the opening of Mathaf.

“When QMA opened the Museum of Islamic Art, we made Qatar the place to see and appreciate the greatest treasures of a vast and vital heritage, which spans centuries and cultures,” Shaikha Al Mayassa was quoted in a number of Qatar daily newspapers as saying. “Now, with the opening of Mathaf, we make Qatar the place to see, explore and discuss the creations of Arab artists of the modern era and our own time. As we reveal this body of exciting and important, but previously little-seen, artworks, we demonstrate that the world can continue to look to Qatar for new possibilities and surprising experiences," she added.

According to Shaikh Hassan Bin Mohamed Bin Ali Al Than, QMA’s vice chairperson, "Arab artists are now receiving unprecedented visibility and support, in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. By making public a century’s worth of distinctive artworks, Mathaf will get people talking about Arab art and help to advance the creativity of the Arab world.”

Mathaf will open with ‘Sajjil’, an exhibition of highlights from the collection, featuring works by more than 100 artists and showing a number of important trends in art history. ‘Sajjil’, the Arabic word for ‘recording’, will show pieces of art which illustrate the beauty and importance of Arab art and help to explain it in the wider context of world art history.

The inaugural exhibition and programmes will be housed in a 5,500 square metre facility that will include galleries on two floors, a cafe, a museum shop, a research library and a wing devoted to art education.

In addition to the inaugural exhibition, Mathaf will present two special exhibitions in a new temporary space located on the grounds of the Museum of Islamic Art.

‘Interventions’, which goes on view from December 30 to May 28, 2011, is curated by Dr Nada Shabout. It celebrates the work of five major modern Arab artists, who were instrumental in introducing modernism to the Arab art world and will display pieces from the permanent collection, alongside newly commissioned work.

‘Told/Untold/Retold’, which goes on view from December 30 to May 28, 2011 is curated by Sam Bardouil and Till Fellrath and features new work by 23 contemporary artists from the Arab world. The theme of the exhibition is storytelling and it will be the first large-scale contemporary art exhibition in Doha.