Qatar Museums Cancel Opening for Minimalism Blockbuster, Citing ‘Turbulent’ Moment

The Qatar Museums have called off the opening celebrations for a blockbuster exhibition of work by Dan Flavin and Donald Judd planned to launch later in the month.

While it was not entirely clear what had caused the cancelation, the opening celebrations were called off as Israeli forces continue to bombard Gaza following an attack by the militant group Hamas on October 7.

Hamas’s attack killed 1,400 people in Israel, while Palestinian authorities have reported that more than 2,800 people have been killed in Israel’s ensuing response. As Israel has continued to threaten the possibility of an invasion in Gaza, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes.

“This turbulent and painful time is not a moment to celebrate,” a spokesperson for the Qatar Museums said in a statement.

Although the Qatar Museums statement did not mention it, the institutions appeared to throw their support behind Palestine, projecting its flag onto the facade the Museum of Islamic Art not long after the Hamas attack. “Oh Allah, we entrust Palestine and its people to you,” wrote Sheikha Al-Mayassa, the sister of Qatar’s ruling Emir and chairperson of Qatar Museums, in an Instagram post featuring images of the projection.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which co-organized the Flavin/Judd exhibition, did not respond to a request for comment.

The exhibition, titled “Dan Flavin | Donald Judd: Doha,” opens on October 25 and features just under 60 works by the two Minimalists. Organized by LACMA director Michael Govan and Jennifer King, an associate curator at that museum, it is being billed as the largest exhibition of their art ever staged outside the United States.

The Qatar Museums are not the only institutions to call off a touted event in response to the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Last week, the Academy Museum in Los Angeles canceled a gala, citing the war as its reasoning. That cancelation also happened against the backdrop of an ongoing actors’ strike that continues to upend Hollywood, but that labor stoppage was not mentioned in the institution’s statement.