Islamic objects re-displayed in British museum


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(Above: An Isnik basin featured in a new British Museum gallery. Image: © Trustees of the British Museum)

A major re-display of the British Museum's Islamic collection showcases connections from West Africa to Southeast Asia as well as reflecting links between contemporary culture and the medieval and ancient worlds.

The recently-opened Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World, situated in the White Wing of the world-famous British Museum, ranges from Persian port city fragments and courtly artefacts to Ottoman Empire-era textiles. It includes objects from artworks to items of daily life found in areas stretching from Nigeria to Indonesia.

The gallery aims to shed light on the peoples and cultures of the Islamic world, together with the ideas, technologies and interactions that inspired their visual culture.

There are rooms dedicated to exploring medieval dynasties up to approximately 1500, the later Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal dynasties, as well as examples of the arts of the book, calligraphy and musical instruments from many different Islamic regions.

The first occupant of a new dedicated temporary display area is an exhibition from the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, exploring the idea of the arabesque motif, which has been used in Islamic societies for more than ten centuries. 

Contemporary arts are also represented and the British artist, Idris Khan OBE, and Saudi Arabian artist, Ahmad Angawi, were commissioned to produce the British Museum's first site-specific artworks.

In response to the collection, Idris Khan created '21 Stones', an installation of 21 paintings, displayed as a scattered formation on a dedicated display wall. This acquisition has been supported by the Contemporary and Modern Middle Eastern Art acquisition group.

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(Above: 21 Stones by Idris Khan © Idris Khan. Image: Trustees of the British Museum)

The artist and designer, Ahmad Angawi, created a series of window screens for the gallery's five windows, combining allusions to the traditional crafts of the Hijaz region of Saudi Arabia with modern manufacturing techniques. The screens are a gift from the Albukhary Family and dedicated to Syed Nor Albukhary and Sharifah Rokiah Albukhary.

Hartwig Fisher, Director of the British Museum, said: "The galleries and permanent displays of the British Museum's collection shows us the interconnectedness of our shared cultures. The Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World allows us to display this world-class collection to tell a more universal story of Islam in a global context."

Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, Chairman of the Albukhary Foundation, said: "In the context of globalisation, I sincerely hope that this new gallery will attract a multicultural audience and contribute in understanding the history, arts and cultures of the Islamic World."

Syed Mohamad Albukhary, Director of the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia, said: "After years of preparation, it is enormously gratifying to see the Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World open to the public. This gallery will certainly form an educational space and will contribute in strengthening visitors' experience and their understanding of the Islamic civilisation."



More about the British Museum's Islamic Gallery here

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