'The Miraculous Journey' – Ar Rayyan, Qatar - Atlas Obscura
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Ar Rayyan, Qatar

'The Miraculous Journey'

Fourteen sculptures showing the development of a fetus stand outside a hospital for women and children. 

Fourteen bronze sculptures representing different phases of the gestation of a  human fetus, from conception to birth, stand outside a medical center. The first sculpture is that of an egg being fertilized by a sperm, and the last sculpture is that of an anatomically correct newborn. Between the two is the detailed development of the fetus, including a sculpture showing twins in the womb.

This artwork, which is by Damien Hirst, was commissioned by Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani. It was appropriately placed in front of the Sidra Medical and Research Center, a hospital with a focus on women’s and children’s health.

Although the statues were originally unveiled in 2013, they remained covered before their official unveiling in 2018. The reason for the double unveiling is that the completion of the building housing Sidra Medical Center was delayed. Officially, the covering was meant to protect the statues from the dust caused by the construction work, but rumors allege that the sculptures were recovered in 2013 to allow their initial backlash to fade.

In an interview with Doha News in 2018, Hirst said that The Miraculous Journey is the first sculpture in the Middle East portraying a naked human body, and that it may cause some controversy, which it certainly did. Critics expressed their dissent in the media, arguing that the artwork was insensitive to the local culture. Curiously, most objections came from abroad.

But art critic Layla Ibrahim Bacha said the work was not meant to please anyone’s aesthetic sensibility, but should instead spark a debate about the importance of healthcare for women and children. In this respect, the artwork exceeded expectations, as the debate went even further than intended, prompting some to discuss the suitability of using art to provoke public debate.

Know Before You Go

You can see the sculptures outside the Sidra Medical and Research Center.

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