MFA Houston to Expand Islamic Art Galleries –

The Museum of Fine Arts has announced plans to double the size of its space for Islamic art, with new galleries opening in early 2023. The expansion of exhibition space is the result of a 15-year initiative led by the museum to increase its heritage of Islamic art.

The new 6,000 square foot exhibit spaces will be located in the museum’s Caroline Wiess Law Building. An outdoor space inspired by Islamic gardens will also be opened as part of the plan. The galleries will feature works spanning various mediums, from paintings, manuscripts and ceramics to textiles and metalwork. The objects come from parts of Europe, the Middle East and Africa; their origins span 1,000 years.

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Highlights to see in the new space include a Moroccan Quran manuscript in Maghrebi script, a 17th-century Iranian silk rug, and a mid-17th-century rug. huqqa India base.

In a statement, MFA Houston Director Gary Tinterow said the final expansion plan was mobilized by a newly formed partnership with collector Hossein Afshar, whom he described as “perhaps the creator of the largest collection of Iranian art in private”. hands.” Items on loan from both the Afshar Collection, as well as those from the funds of council member Sheikha Hussa Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah will also fill the exhibition space.

“We are proud to be one of the largest permanent exhibits in the United States for art from the Islamic worlds,” said the museum’s curator of art from the Islamic worlds, Aimée Froom, in a statement. “Galleries are as diverse as Houston itself.”

The museum’s efforts to raise funds and forge loan partnerships to strengthen its exhibits of Islamic art have been ongoing for more than a decade. In 2012, the MFA established a long-term partnership with the Kuwait-based owners of the al-Sabah collection to bring some of the items on loan to Houston. Between 2007 and 2017, $3.7 million in funding offered by billionaire ambassador Hushang Ansary to create an endowment for the department pushed plans forward.

The MFA Houston isn’t the only museum taking steps to expand its focus on non-Western categories. In January, the Brooklyn Museum opened a new gallery devoted to Buddhist art as part of a focus on its Asian and Islamic art collections.

Mildred D. Field