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Saturday, 25 December, 2010 1:18 AM

DIA opens new, permanent gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Snake-Dragon, Symbol of Marduk, the Patron God of Babylon. Panel from the Ishtar Gate, 604-562 BCE, unknown artist, glazed earthenware bricks. Detroit Institute of Arts.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) opened a new gallery featuring art from the Ancient Middle East. The permanent collection features art pieces from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Yemen and Armenia. About 15 artifacts are on display right now. However, the museum is looking to double the size of the collection within the next year. More fundraising is needed to install the extra art pieces and hire a curator for the new gallery.

One of the most popular art pieces within this gallery is a serpent/dragon panel from the Ishtar gate of Babylon. It was previously on display at the DIA and then taken down. Two other stone wall carvings from the Royal Palace at Nimrud, Iraq are also on display. Other pieces on view include a collar-necked jar from Anatolia (Turkey) that is 7,000 years old and alabaster burial stones from ancient Yemen.

Heather Ecker is the DIA's Head of the Department of Arts of Asia & the Islamic World and the Curator of Islamic Art.

"What we've done is taken a space that's been closed for three years," she continues, "In fact, for the last 30 years, it has been used for a variety of purposes for offices and storage space. We've made a huge and inviting new gallery space to exhibit our Ancient Middle East collection. What we've done is basically a preliminary installation of some of our major pieces. First, so the public can enjoy them and second to give us an opportunity to raise the funds to do a more complete installation."

The installation is the first phase of the new gallery. Further installations will take place once sufficient funding has been obtained.

"Along one wall, we have reliefs from Iraq, from Ancient Iraq from different periods," Ecker added. "For example, from the Neo-Babylonian period, we have one of the few glazed brick panels from the Ishtar gate, which was the main gate of Babylon. Represented on that panel is a dragon. Actually, it is a griffin, an imaginary animal composed of different parts meant to be a fierce some companion to the God Marduk, who was the patron God of Babylon."

The new gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art is a part of the DIA's new method of organizing art within the museum.

"This installation follows sort of a modernist approach," the curator of Islamic Art explained. "It's not heavily interpreted only because as I mentioned, this is a preliminary installation. We haven't put in the kind of teamwork that we usually do to do a full interpretation of our collection. It's more of a statement of the art standing on its own for the moment."

The gallery is located across from the museum's cafeteria in an area that has been used for special exhibits over the last 30 years.

"Some of them are large stone or as I mentioned, glaze brick reliefs," she said. "We have metal work, silver, bronze, coins, glass, various kinds of stone carving. It's really just a selection of master works. The collection in itself is more extensive. We have plenty of bronzes, metal works, textiles, jewelry, many other kinds of things really."

The Detroit Institute of Arts is located at 5200 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan 48202. Museum hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for ages 6-17, and free for DIA members. For membership information call 313-833-7971. Visit www.dia.org for more information.

Related Story: The DIA unveils new, permanent Islamic art gallery

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Faceted Cup, unknown artist, possibly Ctesiphon, Iran, about 600, glass. Detroit Institute of Arts. Bowl with Portrait of the Sasanian King as a Ram, unknown artist, Iran, 500-650, gilded silver. Detroit Institute of Arts.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Art pieces within the new DIA Gallery of Ancient Middle Eastern Art.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Earthenware (clay) art pieces representing five unique animals. The Detroit Institute of Arts

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Dish, unknown artist, Iran, 500-400 BCE., silver. Detroit Institute of Arts.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

Faceted Cup, unknown artist, possibly Ctesiphon, Iran, about 600, glass. Detroit Institute of Arts.

 

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