Museums News Qatar

Qatar fire station to be transformed into art centre

Space will house residencies, studios and a gallery for international and Gulf artists

The Fire Station. Photo: Qatar Museums Authority

A former fire station in Doha is due to be transformed into a space for artist residencies and exhibitions, the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) announced at a press conference on Wednesday, 5 March. The building, which is being redesigned by the Qatari architect Ibrahim Al Jaidah, will include 24 studios and a 700 sq. m gallery, housed in the old garage, to be used by artists participating in the programme as well as the local community. “The gallery space will support local artists whether in residence or not. It will allow for cultural dialogue and exchange between artists living in Qatar and the rest of the world,” said Noor Abuissa, an assistant curator at the QMA.

The rolling nine-month programme, called Fire Station: Artists in Residence, will be open to Qataris and other artists in the Gulf region, as well as international artists based in Qatar. According to the QMA, the selected artists will enjoy privileged access to curators, special exhibitions and lectures at the QMA, while their residencies will culminate in an exhibition at the fire station. Shows organised by Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art may also be held there.

Hala Al Khalifa, the head of the residency programme, emphasised the importance of the project beyond the art scene, which has been thriving in Doha for several years. “The Doha fire station is a building of great importance to the community; it has served the community the past 30 years and will continue to do so through the arts. Our goal is to support artists living in Qatar and provide a platform for creative exchange,” she said. The fire brigade used the building until late 2012 when it was turned over to the QMA to preserve.

Construction work began last summer when parts of the fire station, built in 1982 as a civil defence building, began to be dismantled. The original building is due to reopen to the public in November and a second phase, including a cafe, restaurant, bookshop and cinema is due to open in 2015.

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