In Qatar, a museum looks back at the breadth of Islam


In Qatar, a museum looks back at the breadth of Islam

As the world’s attention shifts to present-day Qatar for the World Cup in late November,2022, the country’s pre-eminent museum is hoping to direct interest to the region’s past..

“MIA is the main museum of Islamic art outside of the West, and we cover all of the Islamic world, so we were conscious of that when we looked at our story line,” said Julia Gonnella, director of the museum.

“The local audience learns about the history of Islam with an eye towards the future,” she said. “But for the international audience, this is where they learn about the Islamic world, past and present.”

The new assortment of galleries will include carpets, textiles, arms and armor, manuscripts, ceramics, stone, glass, wood, ivory and metalwork. The museum’s permanent collection ends in the 19th century, allowing it to sidestep modern politics and most Islamic fissures.

“We tell the story of how Islam spread, both to the East in Central Asia, Baghdad and elsewhere,” she explained. “Then we move toward the West into Africa and Spain and the so-called golden age there.

“But we also include the Indian Ocean region and Southeast Asia,” she said. “This is new for MIA. We have so many residents in Qatar from that part of the world, and it’s very populated with Muslims. We wanted to include that story.”

“Art is not only an object but also the music of language and poetry,” Ms. Gonnella said. “For example, we have sound included in the Quran display room. You can actually hear the Quran. We also have poetry, the ‘Shahnameh,’ from Iran,” she added, referring to the epic poem written more than a thousand years ago that recounts the mythological history of ancient Persia.

Source: New York Times

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