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N° 203
Islamic Collections - Disabling Attitudes - Steinbeck's Literary Legacy

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Permanent Exhibitions: a variety of approaches Adel T. Adamova

The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg has adopted a unique way of exhibiting its rich Islamic collection, one which reflects its vocation as a 'single museum of world culture and art'. But different concepts prevail in other museums, which seek to highlight the particularities of the Islamic artistic vision, and these contrasting principles also have their validity according to Adel T. Adamova, senior research associate/curator of medieval Persian art in the Oriental Department at the Hermitage. She is the author of three books (Miniatures in Kashmiri Manuscripts, The Miniatures in the Manuscript of the Poem 'Shahnama' of 1333, and Persian Paintings and Drawings of the Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries in the Hermitage Collection) and some thirty articles on various subjects connected with medieval Persian painting. Top

The Curator's Dilemma: dispelling the mystery of exotic collections Sheila Canby

How to display a very rich collection and make it meaningful to a public generally unfamiliar with the cultural and historical context of the works is one of the major challenges faced by the British Museum, whose holdings of Islamic pottery are considered the best outside the Islamic world. Sheila Canby, assistant keeper in the Department of Oriental Antiquities, explains what is being done. Top

Islamic Art in Berlin Jen Kröger

Berlin, long a major centre for Islamic art and study, is in the process of reuniting collections dispersed by war and politics. This unique challenge is described by Jens Kröger, curator at Berlin's Museum of Islamic Art and a specialist in the Sassanid art of Iran and Iraq, and early Islamic glass. He is the author of a number of publications including Sasanidischer Stuckdekor (Mainz, 1982) and Nishapur: Glass of the Early Islamic Period (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995). Top

Preserving a Treasure: the Sana'a Manuscripts Ursula Dreibholz

The extraordinary find in Yemen of ancient parchment and paper fragments, mainly from the earliest Islamic periods, posed a unique set of problems covering all aspects of museum practice, from conservation and restoration to storage and access. How to exhibit these newly discovered materials in a country with few museum traditions was the challenge facing Ursula Dreibholz, a conservation expert who worked on the project for eight years. She recounts how the use of simple, often locally available materials coupled with a great deal of ingenuity and resourcefulness came to the rescue of a collection of inestimable historic importance. Top

Fourteen Centuries of Islamic Culture: the Iranian Islamic Period Museum Zohreh Roohfar

Zohreh Roohfar, curator of Islamic art and head of the Islamic Period Museum in Tehran, describes the exhibition themes and methods used to display Islamic art in an Islamic context, for a public familiar with the historical and cultural background of the objects. The author, a professional archaeologist, has published a number of works on Islamic textiles and astrological themes and has been guest lecturer in several museums, including the British Museum. She was responsible for reorganizing the collection of the Bastan Museum comprising more than 10,000 objects and transforming it into the new Iranian Islamic Period Museum. Top

Living the Past: the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art Nazan Ölcer

The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art in Istanbul exemplifies 'the process of reciprocal influence and the universality of art' through a thoughtful combination of Ottoman and Islamic art, as well as the folk art folk life that, in Nazan Ölcer's words, 'are the natural extension of the fine arts and at the same time their roots'. The author became director of the museum in 1978 after having been chief of the carpets and kilims and metalwork sections there. She has worked as assistant curator at the ethnological museums in Munich and Vienna and as guest researcher at the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. Author of many works on carpets and kilims, the art of metalworking, museology and cultural change, she was named Museologist of the Year in Turkey and has received international recognition and honours including the Chevalier des Arts et Des Lettres from France, the Bundesverdienstkreuz order from Germany, the Kryzem Kawalerskim order from Poland and the order of Cavalieri di Omri from Italy. Top

An Ongoing Dialogue: the Museum of the Institute of the Arab World in Paris Brahim Alaoui

The Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris is home to a museum with a mission: to foster a greater dialogue between the two civilizations that have developed on the opposite shores of the Mediterranean. Presenting the art of the Arab-Muslim world to a largely European public is the challenge described by Brahim Alaoui, head of the Contemporary Art Department and director of the Museum and Exhibitions at the IMA. Moroccan born, he began his career as a researcher at the Paris City Museum of Modern Art and has contributed to several collective works and published many catalogues, notably on Arab artists. Through his writings and the exhibitions he has organized, Brahim Alaoui is one of the few mediators to establish a living link between the Arab-Muslim world of the past and present and the European art scene. He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Top

A literary legacy: the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas John C. Stickler

After twenty long years of fund-raising, the dream of the Steinbeck foundation in Salinas, California, came true on 27 June 1998 with the gala opening of the National Steinbeck Center Museum. One thousand guests enjoyed the event, celebrating this agricultural valley's most famous son, Nobel prize-winning author John Steinbeck, who died in Salinas in December 1968 and is buried there in the Garden of Memories Cemetery, about 3 km from his birthplace. California-based freelance writer John C. Stickler tells the story. Top

Access Denied: can we overcome disabling attitudes? Raj Kaushik

The museum world has still a long way to go if it is to become a welcoming environment for disabled visitors, a problem addressed with insight and sensitivity by Raj Kaushik Trained as a physicist and with a Ph.D. in Museum Studies, he entered the field of science museums in 1987 and worked for five years at the National Council of Science Museums, India, as Curator (Physics). In 1992, he joined the Department of Museums Studies at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, as Commonwealth Scholar, and since 1996, has been Exhibits Manager at the Discovery Centre, Halifax, Canada, where he is responsible for all aspects of exhibit design, development and installation. He has written research papers on such topics as science museums in India, Indian science education, adult education and attitude development in Museums, and has also published numerous popular science articles. Top

A City Confronts its Past: Nuremberg's Documentation Centre on the Reich Party Congress Site Franz Sonnenberger

An unconventional museum is being created in Nuremberg to offer German youth a window onto the history of the Third Reich, a part of their country's past that is often shrouded in myth and silence. The author has been director of the Nuremberg Municipal Museums since 1994. Prior to that he was head of department at the Nuremberg Centre for Industrial Culture from 1981 to 1991 and served from 1992 to 1994 as personal adviser to the Lord Mayor of Nuremberg. Top

Edition Volume 51, n.° 3, 1999 (July - September 1999)
Publisher Blackwell Publishing on behalf of UNESCO and the International Council of Museums
Periodicity Quarterly Review
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