News / Arts & Entertainment

Islamic Galleries at the Met Have a Grand Reopening

Carolyn Weaver

It was eight years in the making.  Now, New York’s Metropolitan Museum is reopening its enormous collection of Islamic art in a grand new setting. The objects span nearly 13 centuries and many cultures - and include items ranging from paintings to architectural works to medieval Korans.

The Metropolitan Museum has some of the richest holdings of Islamic art anywhere - but the collection has been largely out of sight for the last eight years, as the museum renovated. Now, the 15 new galleries have greatly expanded the museum's display space for Islamic art. The rooms are grouped by regions and period, from the 7th century to the end of the 19th century.

“Our galleries are named the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and later South Asia," said Sheila Canby, the Met’s chief curator for Islamic art.  "We have done that because that is the geographical region, area, that we cover."

The reopening of the Met's Islamic galleries comes at a time of heightened interest in Islam around the world, and many visitors are expected.

They will see intricately woven carpets so large they had to be carried by a team and unfolded in palatial spaces.  And a tiled prayer niche from Iran that was installed facing East, toward Mecca.

Craftsmen from the Moroccan city of Fez built one of the new galleries.  They spent  eight months creating a traditional Moroccan courtyard inside the museum - with a fountain, columns and lacy archways and ceramic tiles on the walls.

The Damascus Room, a huge, wood-paneled chamber from a wealthy 18th century household is also new. The room was disassembled in Syria, shipped to New York, and rebuilt inside the museum. Conservators repaired and restored each element of the carved and painted wood and the decorative tiles.

Sheila Canby says the room features floral patterns derived from Europe as well as geometric patterns and inscriptions.  

“And inscriptions that are poetical inscriptions, that praise the house, praise the owner, and praise the prophet Mohammed," she said.

There are sculptures - like a pair of palace guards from medieval Iran and paintings of courtly scenes, or lovers embracing. There are household items, some extravagant, such as an enormous bronze incense burner in the shape of a lion. Others are simple.
but decorative - featuring the intricate geometric patterns, calligraphy and arabesques that dominate Islamic art because of Islam's taboo on depicting humans and animals.   

One of Canby’s favorite pieces is a 10th century white bowl with black calligraphy that reads, “Planning before work saves you from regret.”

“That’s a very charming statement, but the fact is the object itself, I think, is sublimely beautiful because of that purity of design," she said.

And there are, of course, Koranic manuscripts with refined calligraphy.

Although the new setting is huge, the 1,200 pieces on display represent only one-tenth of the museum’s holdings of Islamic art.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Paquito D'Rivera, who has won 12 Grammys, is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. D'Rivera's latest project, “Jazz Meets the Classics,” was released this month. He joins us on the latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."