The Peace Bench at Qatar National Museum All stories

A Place for Peace at NMOQ

12 April 2022

Just outside the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) sits a semicircular bench that, from a certain perspective, resembles a warm smile. With the desert rose structure as a backdrop, the silver bench has become a popular spot for photos, but there’s much more to it than selfies.

Origins of the Bench

Designed by Norwegian company Snøhetta, NMoQ’s Peace Bench is actually the second of its kind. The first was originally commissioned by the Nobel Peace Center and temporarily installed in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City in 2019 before being permanently installed in Oslo.

Originally titled The Best Weapon, after a quote by Nelson Mandela, the bench measures 6.5 metres long and is made from 100% recyclable aluminium. It was created in collaboration with the well-known furniture company Vestre. The design of the bench is intentionally sloped in the center, so that when people sit on it, they find themselves ‘forced’ to sit next to each other – a purposeful way of bringing people together and encouraging interactions between strangers. In this way, the bench symbolises the bridging of gaps between different nations.

Two people sitting at the first peace bench located at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

The first Peace Bench was placed in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City © Lars Tornøe

Why NMOQ?

In 2019, the Nobel Peace Center chose to make a gift of the bench to NMoQ in recognition of the museum’s important mission to bring diverse communities together to experience Qatar’s past, present and future.

As Liv Tørres, Executive Director at the Nobel Peace Center, said: “The bench is a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue, which is much needed in today’s international climate. The concept behind the bench is to encourage people to sit down and talk – not only to their friends, but also to strangers and adversaries. Placing it at the National Museum of Qatar helps support this idea and messages in a wonderful way.”

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