Know Your Doha

The recent excitement and preparations for the Annual Gala and Contemporaries Bash here at the the Phillips inspired me to look into the arts scene in Qatar. Heading into a night of cultural exchange and artistic appreciation, I wanted to learn more about the Qatari institutions that celebrate and preserve their cultural heritage. Doha, it turns out, is a city rich with museums and galleries that house centuries of history and beauty. Here are some major places you should know:

Qatar Museums Authority

Qatar Museum Authority

Established in 2005, the Qatar Museums Authority is the organization that oversees museums and heritage sites in Qatar. Their objective is to develop, promote, and sustain the cultural sector to the highest standards.

The Museum of Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art

The Museum of Islamic Art houses one of the world’s largest collections of Islamic art consisting of manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, jewelry, metalwork, woodwork, and glassware that spans over 1,400 years and three continents. The building itself is also a beautiful work of art, designed by award-winning Chinese architect I.M. Pei and influenced by ancient Islamic architecture.

Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

Mathaf_Arab Museum of Modern Art

Established in 2010, Mathaf has quickly become a central part of the Doha art community. French architect Jean-Franҫois Bodin transformed a former school building into an exhibition space. Since its opening, the museum has showcased the achievements of Arab artists from the 1840s to today in painting, sculpture, and photography.

The National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum of Qatar, opening this year, creates a dialogue between the past and present. Through exhibiting historic objects alongside contemporary items, the museum hopes to initiate conversations about the impact of rapid change in a society. The building, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, rests on an island and was inspired by the delicate petals of desert roses.



If you’re looking for experimental and provocative art sure to spark a conversation, ALRIWAQ is the place to visit. As an exhibition space, they do not have a permanent collection. Instead, they hold several temporary shows each year that showcase regional and international works. Damien Hirst’s infamous diamond skull, along with several of his formaldehyde works, were part of an exhibition at ALRIWAQ in 2013.

Rachel Burley, Marketing & Communications Intern

Code, Choreography, and Georgia O’Keeffe

CityDance artist Sarah J. Ewing guest blogs about her upcoming Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired performance at the Phillips on May 12.

choreography code 3_sjewingdc

Rehearsal for the upcoming performance

Through the process of making Analog O’Keeffe with the CityDance Conservatory Dancers, I have kept coming back to the word “audacity,” and more specifically: the audacity of choice. That word and that drive has been the starting point of the choreography, and is what attracts me to Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. I am not particularly rebellious in my life or in my work, but I do aim to be audacious.

OKeeffe_Pattern of Leaves

Georgia O’Keeffe, Pattern of Leaves, 1923. Oil on canvas, 22 1/8 x 18 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1926 © 2008 The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The creation of contemporary dance is a constant decision making process, and one that really doesn’t carry a rule book of what is right or wrong. You have to walk bravely into the unknown when you make a new work and never let the fear or uncertainty of that process hold you back. To have the audacity to create what you want to see in the world—I hope that the young dancers in this piece walk away from this process with a taste of just how powerful of a notion that is.

I also love computer code, the automation of workflows and the beautiful logic that runs databases and websites. It is everything that dance isn’t; reliable, consistent, and permanent—and yet, for me, the process of creating a dance piece and designing a database are the same. The goal is to hold as much information as possible inside a structured design so that the audience, or the end user, can obtain the information that they need to access.

Choreography is made rich by the use and manipulation of time, space, and energy. In a database, these elements would be the tables that hold records which individually don’t say much, but when put with other records, can tell the history of one dancer’s training for the past 10 years. You can see that training when you watch them perform through their skill and technique, or you can pull a report from the database and make a pivot table. We all like to receive information in different ways; for this project I chose to combine my two favorite ways into one.

We are using Xbox Kinect sensors to track the dancers movements, and then using this data to manipulate my animations that are programmed in Quartz Composer. These will be projected during the performance, allowing the dancers to create the entire environment of their performance based on their own choices in movement. That brings us back to audacity—and the power that free choice gives us. I hope the audience sees a little O’Keeffe in the show, and also a little of the students themselves—both inspire me every day.

Sarah J. Ewing, CityDance Ignite artist

Nicole Libeler side by side

Photos: Nicole Libeler

Volunteer Spotlight: Michael D. Farley

In this series, Education Department Coordinator Emily Bray profiles volunteers within the museum. The Phillips Collection volunteers are an integral part of the museum and help in many ways: greeting and guiding guests through the museum, helping with Sunday Concert, assisting patrons in the Library, helping out with Phillips after 5 and special events, and so much more. Our volunteers offer a wealth of expertise and experience to the museum, and we are delighted to highlight several them.

Michael D. Farley, Art Information Volunteer Mentor/Phillips after 5 Volunteer

Volunteer Spotlight - Michael Farley

Michael D. Farley

What year did you start volunteering at The Phillips Collection?

What do you see as the most valuable aspect of your volunteering?
Supporting the Phillips, working with staff & guests, learning about the collection.

 What do you do when you are not volunteering at The Phillips Collection?
Chief Development Officer-American Society of International Law

What is your favorite room or painting here?
Jacob Lawrence & Rothko room

If you had to choose one word to describe Phillips, what would it be?

Share a fun fact about you!
My first nonprofit job was as a Development Director of the Portland Art Museum in Portland, OR, in 1986, and there I created the popular “Museum After Hours” program still going strong today, very similar to Phillips after 5.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Enjoy Thursday evening volunteering and working the Will Call desk