DOHA– The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) announced the opening of a two-part temporary exhibition that offers a rare opportunity for visitors to gain insight into the process of collecting and displaying art in a museum.
Building Our Collection will open tomorrow(April 30th) in MIA’s temporary exhibition galleries on the fourth floor. The exhibition explores why MIA collects Islamic art, and how the museum’s collecting and exhibition practices shape people’s understanding of Islamic art culture from China to Spain through artistic and cultural connections between different regions of the Islamic world. Engaging with objects through exhibitions and programmes offers a chance to learn about their stories: from their creation and historic context, to their travels and biography,and their preservation in MIA’s collection.Providing this background to part of MIA’s collections heds light on the relevance of these pieces within an Islamic art collection, and why they have wider aesthetic, historic, and scientific significance. The majority of featured objects have never before been on display.
The first part of the exhibition, Ceramics of al-Andalus, on view until 30 August, focuses on rare and beautiful ceramics from Islamic Spain. Objects on display range from lustreal barelli used as medicinal jars for storing apothecary ointments and dried herbal drugs, to an ablution vessel decorated with stamped motifs, and dishes featuring royal coats of arms, which exemplify the blending of Muslim and Christian artistic motifs. Ceramics of al-Andalus is curated by Dr Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya, MIA Curator for North Africa and Iberia.
The second part of the exhibition, Safavid and Mughal Albums, runs from 17 September to 21 February 2015. It showcases the museum’s collection of miniatures and calligraphy from Safavid Persia and Mughal India. This display will examine the influence of elite Asian collecting practices on the British in colonial India, and how the tradition of assembling albums was adapted from the 16thcentury Safavid court by the Mughal emperors of India (16th-19th centuries), and then finally coopted by the British elite in India, who began collecting miniature paintings to demonstrate their own aesthetic refinement and connoisseurship. This selection of miniature paintings and calligraphic compositions reveals the journey of artistic refinement from the Middle East to Asia and Europe across the centuries, and how this part of MIA’s collection came into formation.Safavid and Mughal Albumsis curated by Dr Nur Sobers-Khan, MIA Curator for Turkey.
Through these displays of Andalusi ceramics and Safavid and Mughal albums, MIA illuminates its philosophy of collecting and conserving key pieces in the history of Islamic art, and the value of exhibitions and learning in museums. Entrance to Building Our Collection is free of charge. The exhibition will be supported by full educational material and activities, including guided public tours, talks by experts in Islamic art, and opportunities for teachers to explore museums as places of learning and inspiration. –QNA