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The Peace Bench by Snohetta - Scale Magazine

The Peace Bench by Snohetta is now in Doha

The National Museum of Qatar is the second location for the Peace Bench, an installation by Snohetta as a special gift from the Noble Peace Center designed as a singular design gesture that embodies an invitation to conversation. Engraved on its surface is Nelson Mandela’s famous quote, “The best weapon is to sit down and talk”, from which the piece derives its name.

The National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) unveiled a special gift from the Nobel Peace Center in collaboration with the Norwegian firm Hydro. The gift is a sculptured “Peace Bench”, which is an internationally recognized symbol of conversation, diplomacy, and dialogue, and is now situated within the Baraha at NMoQ. The gift was unveiled to mark the 50-year industrial collaboration between Qatar and Norway that is being celebrated this year.The Peace Bench by Snohetta - Scale Magazine

The National Museum of Qatar was selected under the basis of being a high-visibility area by the Nobel Peace Center, shedding light on the museum’s aim of bringing communities together to experience Qatar’s past, present, and future.

The 6.5-meter long bench is made from aluminium supplied by Hydro, which is a part-owner of the Qatalum aluminium company. Norwegian firms Snøhetta, and Vestre respectively designed and constructed the NMoQ installation.

The Peace Bench is an internationally recognized symbol of conversation, diplomacy, and dialogue, and is situated within the Baraha at NMoQ. The design will be in the shape of a partial circle that meets the ground at its lowest point, embodying an invitation to conversation.

The first bench was placed outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City earlier this year and NMOQ received the second bench. The bench was commissioned by the Nobel Peace Center and is titled “The Best Weapon” in reference to a famous quote by Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela: “The best weapon is to sit down and talk”.Peace Bench at United Nations Head Quarters - Scale Magazine

The National Museum of Qatar was selected under the basis of being a high-visibility area by the Nobel Peace Center, shedding light on the museum’s aim of bringing communities together to experience Qatar’s past, present, and future.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, said, “Art and culture are vital tools for bringing people together and creating spaces for innovation and expression, and this installation is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the importance of conversation, diplomacy, and dialogue in society, whoever we are or wherever we come from. The Peace Bench embodies this responsibility we all have, and NMoQ is proud to be recognized by the Nobel Peace Center with this generous and inspirational gift, which can now be enjoyed by all visitors to the museum”.

“The bench is a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue, which is much needed in today’s international climate. The idea of 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 will support this idea and message in a wonderful way,” said Liv Tørres, Executive Director at the Nobel Peace Center.The Peace Bench by Snohetta at Nobel Peace Center- Scale Magazine

The 6.5-meter long bench is made from 100% recyclable aluminium supplied by Hydro, which is a part-owner of the Qatar based aluminium company Qatalum. Hydro started its industrial adventure in Qatar in 1969, partnering with Qatar Petroleum to establish Qafco and later Qatar Vinyl Company before Qatalum started production in 2010.

The bench is designed by the Norwegian architect and design group Snøhetta and manufactured by Vestre.

As a symbol of diplomacy and dialogue, the installation pays tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their efforts to bring people together to find effective solutions for peace.

“In today’s digitalized and polarised society, sitting down and speaking together might be the most effective tool that we have to find solutions and common ground. We believe in using design as a tool to create lasting symbols that foster fruitful communication,” says Snøhetta founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.

The piece manifests the values of the Nobel Peace Center and pays tribute to the humane ideals of Nelson Mandela – ideals of compromise, of dialogue and compassion. “We hope that the bench will encourage people to sit down and talk – to their friends, but also to strangers and adversaries. Genuine conversations are requirements for peace,” says Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center, Liv Tørres.

The Best Weapon balances a duality of messages, both as a functional piece that invites conversation and social intimacy, as well as a resilient symbol that anchors the Peace Center’s mission for discourse and peace. The six and a half meter-long installation is made from anodized aluminium from Hydro. Bead-blasted and pre-distressed, the sturdy material will ensure the bench’s longevity, promoting diplomacy and dialogue for many years to come.

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