UCL Qatar’s Research on National Museums and the Public Imagination.
1 February 2018
Dr Waleed Serhan, Research Associate at UCL Qatar, talks about the research project “National Museums and the Public Imagination: A Longitudinal Study of the National Museum of Qatar”
UCL Qatar’s research project “National Museums and the Public Imagination: A
Longitudinal Study of the National Museum of Qatar” is a research project led by Dr Karen Exell (Honorary Senior Research Associate at UCL Qatar and a Consultant at the National Museum of Qatar) and a team of international and Qatar-based researchers and academics. The project is funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) from August 2016 to July 2019 and it aims to develop an understanding of the social and cultural perception and impact of the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) across key demographic groups in Qatar, both Qatari nationals and expatriates.
The research is
divided into three main stages: pre-opening of NMoQ, immediate post-opening,
and a longitudinal follow-up one year later. We are currently in the
pre-opening stage of the research, which aims to provide baseline indications
of public perceptions of national heritage, values and identity prior to the
opening of the museum. While data collection and analysis is ongoing in the
pre-opening phase, the project’s research team have already put together a
report highlighting key museum content and practical recommendations which was presented
to Qatar Museums and the National Museum of Qatar in early December 2017. This
report is based on a telephone survey with 1500 respondents, 75 semi-structured
in-depth interviews, and 4 focus groups. The people who participated in the
survey and the interviews included mostly Qatari nationals, but also a considerable
number of expatriates.
The research follows an inductive approach that allows for flexibility to incorporate events as they unfold; this had been the case when the research team began investigating the recent blockade on Qatar and how that could impact Qatari national identity and people’s perceptions and expectations of NMoQ in light of these developments. The two upcoming stages of data collection will investigate the changes in public opinion and perceptions that will occur as result of the museum opening, due in December 2018, and consequently how the museum is situated in the imaginations of the diverse communities of Qatar a year later
This research project constitutes the widest-scale museum audience research to be undertaken in the region. On a more theoretical level, it explores the construction and negotiation of Qatari national identity and the nation-building process through the establishment of the National Museum of Qatar.
For more information about this research project, please visit:
Image of NMoQ by Dr Karen Excell