Oct. 8, 2013 ( – For weeks now, 14 massive – and mysterious – white balloons have sat in front of the Sidra Medical and Research Center in Qatar.


But on Monday, during a ceremony accompanied by the sound of the beating of a heart, those balloons retracted to reveal an astonishingly ambitious – and pro-life – work of art by famed British artist and provocateur Damien Hirst.

The display, entitled “The Miracuous Journey,” is made up of fourteen monumental bronze sculptures depicting the journey of the unborn child from conception to birth.

All told, the statues, which range from 5 to 11 metres in height and which took Hirst three years to create, weigh a total of 216 metric tonnes.  The sculpture of the newborn baby boy that is the finale of the exhibit measures a staggering 46 ft. tall. 


According to a press release put out by the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), which commissioned the sculptures, the permanent installation is intended to be “a celebration of life,” and is dedicated to “the people of Qatar.” 

While the New York Times speculated that the sculptures could be seen as provocative in a culture that embraces strict Muslim values of modesty, Sheikha al Mayassa Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 30, the chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority, dismissed any such concerns.  

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“To have something like this is less daring than having a lot of nudity,” she said. “There is a verse in the Koran about the miracle of birth. It is not against our culture or our religion.”

But the life-affirming exhibit marks a change in course for Hirst, whose previous works have included a diamond-studded human skull, and a variety of animals, some dissected, preserved in formaldehyde. 

“Ultimately, the journey a baby goes through before birth is bigger than anything it will experience in its human life,” Hirst said. “I hope the sculpture will instill in the viewer a sense of awe and wonder at this extraordinary human process, which will soon be occurring in the Sidra Medical Center, as well as every second all across the globe.”