Five GU-Q alumni enrolled in UCL Qatar’s Master’s (MA) in Museum and Gallery Practice were part of the team that worked to quickly transition an exhibit for the program into an interactive online experience in the wake of the pandemic crisis. The exhibition, called Umoumah, which is Arabic for motherhood, is a collaboration between QF partner institutions UCL Qatar, Sidra Medicine, and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. It seeks to explore the process of becoming a mother and the support for expectant mothers in Qatar through a range of artistic mediums. Originally for a campus-based showing, the project has now found a new home on its own website.
Aleesha Suleman (SFS’16), who was part of the exhibition design team, said: “This exhibition aims to create awareness for the larger community and the family unit, but also for the mother-to-be who can be harder on herself than anyone else as she experiences this transition – the process of becoming a mother.” Hoyas who were involved in the project include Walli Ullah (SFS’18) and Ameni Abida (SFS’19) on the marketing and evaluation team, and Layal Mashhadi (SFS’19) and Nabilah Asarow (SFS’19) on the interpretation and education team.
Though the exhibition build was nearing completion, the pandemic crisis meant that physically presenting their hard work to visitors was now impossible. “Most of the practical elements of the program that we were looking forward to like the exhibition project and work placement got changed or cancelled. I was really looking forward to these, but the situation is not one that anyone could have foreseen.”
The team decided to move forward with a virtual exhibition instead, but the decision to transition to an online space, said Aleesha, presented new challenges. “We had to think carefully about how to balance our original concept with the experience of a user in the digital world. It wasn’t a copy-paste exercise but involved a serious back-and-forth process with our web developers to come up with an interactive and heartfelt experience online.
“It took a lot of hours of work and collaboration – to design both the physical and online exhibition. I think we all experienced such a major shift in the way we work and communicate over the last few weeks, using so many platforms to stay connected online.”
The experience, she said, gave her the opportunity to innovate, problem solve, and ultimately, create something with its own unique set of advantages too. “I can see how this online version of the exhibit has the ability to reach more people around the world and it’s been really gratifying to hear about reactions of family, friends and members of the museum and cultural heritage community. I’m really proud of how it turned out.”
For more information about the virtual exhibition please visit the website at www.umoumah.com, follow the Instagram account: @umoumah which features the exhibition hashtags: #umoumah, #uclqatar and #uclqurates.