select - Art Collections

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From ancient Statues to bejewelled necklaces, medieval icons to Impressionist canvases, engravings to watercolours, the best museums offer several millennia of fabulous artworks.

 


London

NATIONAL GALLERY
With over 2,300 canvases on display, the National Gallery does a superb job of providing a solid overview of Western art from the Middle Ages to 1900, highlighting all its main movements and best artists, including the best of British landscape painters such as Constable and Turner. What’s more, this lesson in the development of art is absolutely free, though temporary exhibitions require tickets. The gallery is very user-friendly; you can do free one-hour overview tours or choose your must-see paintings on a screen and print out your own personalised map. Weekday lectures at lunchtime are also popular. Giotto, Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Rembrandt, and Velázquez are among the big names on display, while the fabled and most popular East Wing is devoted to the sunflowers, water lilies, and landscapes of the Impressionists.


WHERE
Trafalgar Square in London’s West End. Take the underground to Leicester Square or Charing Cross stations.


WHY
It can’t match some museums for sheer size, but makes up for it in quality and expert arrangement.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has five flights daily from Doha to London Heathrow from March 25.

 


Doha

MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART
Rising from its own island in Doha harbour this über-modernist building (its geometry is said to be inspired by a 13th century Cairo fountain) MIA is a bold statement of Qatar’s growing cultural credentials. But it’s what’s inside that really counts. In both permanent galleries and regularly changing exhibitions, the museum’s collection ranges from the 7th to the 19th centuries, and from Morocco and Spain to India and beyond. There are plenty of religious items, but the museum also has a fine secular display, with particularly impressive collections of metalwork, carpets, and textiles such as curtains and cushion covers. Among the museum highlights are a ruby-and-pearl necklace and jewelled falcon from India, stunningly detailed court watercolours from Persia, ceremonial Turkish swords, and a 13th century glazed vase from Syria.


WHERE
This state-of-the-art building stands on the Corniche adjacent to the dhow harbour of Doha port.


WHY
The largest collection of Islamic art in the world highlights its incredible variety of both religious and secular art.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to over 110 international destinations.

 


New York

MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
MoMA has such a superlative collection that it’s hard to pick the highlight: Monet’s Water Lilies, van Gogh’s Starry Night, a Cézanne or Picasso, or Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31. The building is also magnificent, with its glass walkways and abundant natural light and sculpture garden. If you find modern art baffling, the free audio guide provides enlightenment.


WHERE
Midtown East, 11 W. 53rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. Take the subway to 5th Avenue station.


WHY
Its Impressionist collection alone is superb, and that’s just the start of the modern era at this world-class museum.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to New York.

 


Cairo

MUSEUM OF EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES
This museum houses the world’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian treasures in a magnificent jumble said to encompass 120,000 pieces, some excellently displayed, others gathering dust in obscure corners. The highlight is the fabled Tutankhamun exhibit with its gold funerary mask, sarcophagi, and many items buried with the boy-king. Also fascinating is the section devoted to daily life in ancient times, which displays furniture, toys, spoons, and more. Kids will be especially delighted with the animal mummy room, while the royal mummy room displays the well-preserved remains of Pharaoh Ramses II. Those pressed for time can take in most of the highlights below the rotunda on the ground floor, including imposing statues of pharaohs. A statue of Khafre, builder of the second Great Pyramid, shows him seated on a throne, and has superb workmanship.


WHERE
The Egyptian Museum is on Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. Nearest metro at Sadat Station.


WHY
More artefacts than you’ll see anywhere else from one of history's earliest great civilisations.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Cairo.

 


Vienna

MUSEUM OF ART HISTORY
The Hapsburg rulers of Austria amassed such a vast art collection that they finally knocked up a sumptuous building to house it, right across the road from their palace. Today the Kunsthistorisches Museum is one of Europe’s best, packed with the works of the greatest European masters (including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Dyck, and Rubens), but also noted for its collection of ancient Egyptian and Greek art. The museum also has a superb collection of paintings and engravings by the Renaissance artist Dürer and portraitist Holbein. The museum’s treasury displays gem-encrusted objects in gold and silver made for royal palaces, including the world-famous salt cellar created by Italian master craftsman Cellini. Being Vienna, the museum also has a sculpture-dotted café with cakes from Gerstner, one of the city’s famous names, which are also masterpieces.


WHERE
The museum is on Burgring 5 in the 1st District.


WHY
Top quality that reflects the personal tastes of the Hapsburg emperors, and especially the best of Flemish and Dutch masters.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Vienna.

 


Paris

LOUVRE MUSEUM
The Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo are the biggest draws at the world’s largest museum, but the collection ranges from antiquities to Islamic art, and painting and sculpture from just about every European school, including baffling contemporary works. Few know the Louvre is also a repository of decorative and graphic art, and houses the richly decorated reception rooms of Napoleon III.


WHERE
Take metro lines 1 or 7 to Palais-Royal/Musée du Louvre. Enter under the glass pyramid of the Cour Napoléon courtyard.


WHY
Some 30,000 exhibits, representing almost every world culture.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has 16 flights a week from Doha to Paris.

 
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