UCL Qatar
كلية لندن الجامعية قطر


UCL Qatar Student Profile

Name: Aisha Al-Naama
MA Museum and Gallery Practice, Part-time
Qatar Museums, exhibition designer for Skate Girls of Kabul.

Skate Girls of Kabul

Tell us about the exhibition?
The exhibition is about the journey of photographer, Jessica Fulford-Dobson and the Skate Girls of Kabul. After reading about the education charity, Skateistan, Jessica visited Kabul and was inspired by the girl's spirit despite difficult circumstances and cultural restrictions. Jessica was also inspired by their ability and physical movement, whilst always respecting their cultural modesty; their unique clothing was characterised by bright, bold colours.

How did you come to work on the project?
I've worked for Qatar Museums for over two years; I started in the design team by assisting in the production of construction drawings and graphics related to exhibitions. In my second year, I was assigned a photography exhibition to work on which was part of the Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture. This project was the first I had been given to design, and my work on this exhibition was noticed by the QM Head of Design and the Director of the Exhibition Department. I believe the Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture exhibition showcased my skills, and ‘Skate Girls of Kabul’ was the second project I was assigned.

QM Gallery Katara

What has it been like to work on?
It was very challenging because I didn’t want to just present art on the wall!

In the first meeting with the photographer, Jessica suggested adding a half-ramp in one of the galleries. However, I wanted to incorporate a whole skating area for children, as well as visitors of all ages! This idea was initially approved the Head of the Exhibition and the Director, but was rejected many times by other QM departments due to health and safety reasons.
The design of the skate area changed a lot as we researched the safety of skate ramps for visitors, and carried out risk assessments.

Exhibition Design

What opportunities have arisen for your future career?
I think it’s important to break the stereotype of presenting art and think outside the box.
The 'Skate Girls of Kabul' exhibition grabbed the attention of the Director of the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, who liked the idea of incorporating an active element in an exhibition.

Behind the Scenes

Why did you want to work in galleries?
It is a very creative and challenging job. Designing exhibition spaces is not just about making the space aesthetically appealing, but instead it’s about the importance of presenting the artwork in a creative way that has meaning to visitors. Visitors don’t just want to see a beautiful space, or objects placed in a limited environment but they want a pleasing and exciting experience that combines learning and enjoyment.

How has the MA in Museum and Gallery Practice helped you in your professional career?
Museum and gallery practice was a new field to me, I honestly started knowing nothing about exhibition and I never thought it would be this hard and challenging. This programme helped me to look at museum exhibitions from different perspective.
For my dissertation, I focused on the lack of Qatari visitors to museum exhibitions. I did a lot of research and talked to Qataris to understand their needs and expectations in order to attract them as visitors. I incorporated my findings into the 'Skate Girls of Kabul' exhibition and will do so in future exhibitions. The dissertation helped enormously in my career as a museum professional and as a designer.
Do you have any advice for potential applicants?

This programme is designed to help develop your professional career; I think a lot of students start the programme without knowing which role they want in the museum sector. I believe it’s important to know what you want to do and link your studies to your career aspirations. I always tried to choose optional modules and a dissertation topic which related to my career and interests.
What’s next for you?

As an exhibition designer, I’m hoping to break the rigid stereotypes and rules of presenting art in museum exhibitions.

The Skate Girls of Kabul exhibition is running at the QM Gallery, Building 10, Katara until 21st October 2017

Behind the scenes photo album of Aisha's work at the exhibition:

UCL Qatar Student Profile: Aisha Al-Naama