Qatar Museums Authority chief steps down
The former Christie’s chairman Edward Dolman plans to return to London and New York
By Gareth Harris. Web only
Published online: 07 April 2014
Edward Dolman has resigned as executive director and acting chief executive of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), the body that oversees the present and future museums in the tiny, oil-rich Gulf state.
Dolman, who was previously chairman of Christie’s, took up the post in September 2011; he now plans to return to London and New York. He will remain a member of QMA’s international advisory board.
“During his tenure, Edward Dolman oversaw the opening of several internationally-renowned exhibitions and successfully delivered the QMA’s ten-year strategic plan,” says an official statement. Despite his departure, the National Museum of Qatar, designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, is due to open in two years’ time. The QMA also oversees the Orientalist Museum, which has a collection but no building yet.
Dolman also backed a series of high-profile exhibitions held in Doha featuring leading international artists such as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami and Richard Serra, the latter of which opens on 10 April at the Al Riwaq exhibition hall and QMA Gallery, Katara (until 6 July). However, the QMA stresses in its statement that it is not only high-profile Western artists who will get to show in the Gulf state, and that “through a strong emphasis on originating art and culture from within and fostering a spirit of national participation, QMA is helping Qatar find its own distinctive voice in today’s global cultural debates”.
Dolman also orchestrated some radical managerial changes at the QMA. Last year, for instance, he oversaw its transition into a “private entity for public good”, encompassing new policies that affect finance, human resources and tendering.
“It is a major change,” Dolman told The Art Newspaper last autumn. “This is a commonly used structure in Qatar, where so many projects are funded by the government. It means that the QMA will generate its own revenues, for example through sponsorship, but will still have government support and will still be approved and audited.”
The reorganisation came after a columnist in the daily newspaper Al Arab accused several top officials at the authority of abusing their power. The authority threatened legal action, while the QMA chair, Sheikha Al Mayassa, sent a letter to employees rebutting the charges, saying that she was disappointed by the “false accusations” (The Art Newspaper, October 2013).
“My decision to leave was a difficult one, but I know that the QMA will continue to deliver world-class arts institutions over the coming years and, in doing so, will create better understanding between the world's many cultures and faiths,” Dolman said in a statement about his departure.
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