MOMA Kuwait. Image by Sablat Oman posted on Funoon Arabiya by Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

MOMA Kuwait. Image by Sablat Oman posted on Funoon Arabiya by Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

The Museum of Modern Art was established in 2003 under the patronage of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters. The NCCAL restored the old Al Sharqiyya school, one of the oldest buildings in Kuwait (dating from the 1930s), which was the first school many of Kuwait’s senior citizens attended – including the current Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al Ahmad.

The collection consists mostly of acquisitions by and donations to the NCCAL; besides senior Kuwaiti artists such as Thuraya al Baqsami, Issa Saqr and the amazing sculptor Sami Mohammed Al Saleh – one of the two artists representing Kuwait in the first pavilion of the country at the Venice Biennale, in 2013 – there are works by artists from the rest of the Arab world, such as Lebanese Paul Guiragossian, UAE’s Abdul Qadir Al Rais, and Bahrain’s Jamal Abdul Rahim. Although the artists and artworks are duly mentioned with captions next to the artworks, there is no further information or documentation available in the Museum; there is no website for the Museum and to find out what’s happening one must consult art blogs or google the museum. (see list in the sidebar).

The temporary exhibitions held in the ground floor space follow each other at an uneven rate, periods of several short exhibitions being followed by long stretches of apparent inactivity. Some of the events that took place in 2012-2013 include the intriguing Museum of Manufactured Response to Absence (MoMRtA) and the group exhibition of Kuwaiti artists ‘Recycyled Art 2’ in Dec 2013. It appears that the temporary exhibition space is used by a variety of institutions and powerful actors in Kuwait wishing to show their projects, instead of composing a programme that reflects the objectives of the Museum. In fact the MoMRtA curated by Ala Younis was the first exhibition in a long time that seemed to appeal to an international art audience.

One of the old houses remaining next to the Museum of Modern Art. Photo by RobertK

Written by: RobertK Last modified: 26th Dec 2013
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