Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to expand its Islamic art galleries

The Museum of Wonderful Arts, Houston (MFAH) will embark on a transformative $3.5m undertaking to increase its galleries devoted to Islamic artwork, a sizeable power of the museum’s long term assortment.

The venture, which is slated to be unveiled subsequent 12 months, will double the size of the museum’s Islamic art galleries to all over 6,000 sq. ft, reconfiguring a area that now houses the museum’s library, and also includes the construction of an adjoining courtyard that will reflect regular architectural features of Islamic gardens, an analogue for paradise in the Qur’an.

The museum holds all around 14,000 Islamic artworks, like extensive-time period loans from prominent collections this sort of as the assortment of the Kuwati collector Hossein Afshar, who turned concerned with the museum by way of personalized ties to its current director, Gary Tinterow.

There is also a segment committed to will work brokered by means of a 2012 partnership with the politician Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabahl that at first entailed the loan of close to 60 pieces, a variety that has mushroomed to all over 300 performs given that then. The agreement authorized the Sheik to “have a semi-lasting existence in the world, where his collection would be witnessed, studied and appreciated”, in accordance to Aimée Froom, the museum’s curator of arts of the Islamic world.

The “King Umberto II Polonaise” Carpet (early 17th century). The Hossein Afshar Collection at the Museum of Wonderful Arts, Houston.

Froom provides that the museum previously had “had a fledgling collection of Islamic artwork at the time, because of to generous donations a long time before by the Texas powerhouse philanthropist and suffragette Annette Finnigan”.

The enlargement will emphasise “cross-cultural aspects”, Froom suggests, and “stress that Islamic artwork is not a monolithic entity—it’s more of a tapestry of diverse cultures, ethnicities, languages and regional traditions, and these universalities really should be properly honoured and explored”.

The new street-level galleries will be housed in the Mies van der Rohe-made Caroline Wiess Regulation Creating and allow hundreds of a​​dditional is effective to go on see, spanning paintings, manuscripts, ceramics, carpets, metalworks and other objects reflecting the breadth of Islamic art from current-day countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

Some cornerstones of the assortment include things like an ancient Moroccan Qur’an manuscript copied in a unique maghribi script, a 16th-century Turkish stonepaste scroll and a 17th-century cotton and silk carpet woven by Safavid court docket weavers that when belonged to the Italian Property of Savoy right up until the loss of life of Umberto II, the past king of Italy.

The enlargement of the Islamic artwork gallery comes on the heels of a $450m campus overhaul at the MFAH, which was finished in November 2020.