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Local News / Entertainment

Friday, 26 February, 2010 9:37 PM

The DIA unveils new, permanent Islamic art gallery

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

An overview of the new Islamic art gallery at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

by Garrett Godwin
ggodwin82@yahoo.com

 

DETROIT -- The Detroit Institute of Arts has had a long history of exhibiting Islamic art, and now that tradition continued with a media preview that took place early Wednesday morning. Open for the public on Sunday, the collection goes back to the 7th century and runs up to the present day. The DIA has been collecting Islamic art throughout the history of the museum and continues to do so today.

There are almost 170 art pieces from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia and India that span about 1,500 years on the museum's first floor. The project was delayed a few years because the museum needed to secure the final $750,000, which was the total cost of the new gallery. The Islamic art gallery is spread across a 3,350 square foot room.

"As we approached our self-imposed deadline of November 2007, we realized that we were not going to make it," said DIA Director Graham W. J. Beal. "We were not going to have all of the galleries ready. For really quite practical reasons, to do with the flow of people through the building, we decided to postpone the Asian collections. Although Islam has historically been in north Africa, and was in Spain, basically it's an Asian collection. This is the first installment of the Asian collections. We'll have to raise some more money and we'll move onto India, the south Asia, China, Japan and Korea."

Looking at an astounding case, Heather Ecker looks at it from her perspective as curator of Islamic art. That approach, said the Arts of Asia and Islamic World department head, is to look at the art closely -- what kinds of narrative and stories being told. One of the over-riding themes is that the Islamic art is connecting the East and the West in terms of relations between the Islamic world and China.

"We also have some fabulous carpets on display, beautiful manuscripts, including Qur'ans, as well as manuscripts from the Christian context in the Islamic world," said Dr. Heather Ecker, Curator of Islamic Art at the DIA. "We have some beautiful ceramics and even household goods from the Middle Ages that are very charming.

When it comes to exploring this art, it helps break down walls and stereotypes that have stigmatized Muslims and Arabs over the last several years since 9/11 due to issues such as terrorism. With this exhibit, it shows that they're not so different from Americans in terms of everyday life like cooking, cleaning, education, family, and one of the main factors of all: religion, including a large Qu'ran new to the exhibit.

"Probably the most important piece, which we have in our collection is a Qu'ran," Ecker added. "A very large Qu'ran, made in Iran or central Asia in the mid 15th century, so around 1450, and what's really special about it other than it's size, because it's quite large, is that it's written on a special kind of paper in 10 different colors that's flecked with gold."

The new art gallery opens to the public on Sunday and is included with general admission.

Museum admission is $4 for youth, $6 for seniors and $8 for adults. For ticket information, visit dia.org or call the Box Office at 313-833-4005. Museum hours are 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For membership information call 313-833-7971.

 

PHOTO BY GARRETT GODWIN / AMERICAJR.com

Mirror with Benedictory Inscription (about 1200) by an unknown artist - Eastern Iran or Afghanistan

Bowl (1100-1250) by an unknown artist - Iran

 

PHOTO BY GARRETT GODWIN / AMERICAJR.com

Top: Bowl (1200s) by an unknown artist, Murcia or Mallorca, eastern Spain; Tin-glazed earthenware with luster.

 

PHOTO BY GARRETT GODWIN / AMERICAJR.com

 

PHOTO BY GARRETT GODWIN / AMERICAJR.com

Ewer (700s) by an unknown artist from Iraq or Iran

 

PHOTO BY GARRETT GODWIN / AMERICAJR.com

Mosque Candlestick (about 1500) by an unknown artist, Turkey, Gilded copper (tombak), wool

 

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