Qatar Museums launches innovative “Artist in Residence” Programme and 555 exhibition at the old Doha Fire Station
Under the visionary guidance of Qatar Museums Chairperson H.E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums (QM) officially launched the new Fire Station building and Artists in Residence programme, as well as the inaugural “555” exhibition.
Since 2012, Qatar Museums’ team has been working on renovating the old Civil Defence Building (commonly known as the old Fire Station), in preparation for hosting the new “Artist in Residence” programme. To honour the heritage and traditions of the past while embracing the future, Qatar Museums was keen to preserve the original façade and recycle many of the features, allowing the original integrity of the building to remain intact.
The “Artist in Residence” programme which is scheduled to commence in September 2015, will span a period of nine months and initially include 20 artists from a range of different disciplines, including art, photography, design, architecture and other fields. The residency programme will first be open to local Qatari artists and residents of Qatar and at a later stage to regional artists. More than 150 applications were received to date.
In parallel with the launch of the Fire Station, the 555 exhibition was officially launched in homage to “The Art Centre”, the very first artist in residence initiative that took place in Doha in the early 1990’s and which ran for a decade. Curated by HE Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani, the 555 exhibition aims to showcase a pivotal era in the development of arts not only in Qatar, but the region as a whole.
Perfectly equipped to host the 20 artists selected to join the Fire Station, the building is home to 24 studios and a gallery space for exhibitions and community interaction. Twenty studios will be open to those artists selected to join the residency, whilst four will be reserved for visiting artists. The Fire Station premises will also feature public attractions such as a park, library, an arts and crafts shop, a cinema, a plaza, a restaurant to foster an interactive environment and engage the local community.
The residency programme will also offer the 20 artists weekly mentoring programmes, and access to QM Museums, special exhibitions, lectures as well as access to QM’s experienced museum curators.
The Doha Fire Station was built in 1982 as a Civil Defence building. The building was occupied by the fire brigade until late 2012 when the building was handed over to Qatar Museums for preservation and conservation and to sensitively recycle elements of the original architecture.