The Brigham Young University (BYU) Museum of Art is expected to launch its exhibit, “Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture” on Feb. 24.
It features over 250 objects from 40 lenders and nine countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. BYU is a Mormon University located in Provo, Utah, and its Museum of Art is the most attended university museum in North America. The exhibit will be on display there until Sep. 29.
Afterwards it will re-locate to three other museums across the country including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Nov. 2, 2012 to Jan. 13 2013; Newark Museum Feb. 13, 2013 to May 19, 2013 and the Portland Art Museum June 15. 2013 to Sep. 8 2013.
“We’re very excited about this exhibition. It’s been more than 50 years since we’ve presented a temporary exhibition of Islamic art,” said Kathryn Haigh, Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The project director of “Beauty and Belief” is Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir, an expert on Islamic art. Dr. Al Khemir’s work often consists of cultural bridging and dialogue. She’s also the founding director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.
Mary Duffy, spokeswoman for the BYU Museum of Art said the exhibit’s pieces are symbols of unity between communities. “Beauty and Art” will also create a national and international dialogue about Islamic art, and showcase the similarities between western and Islamic cultures.
“Islamic culture holds many cultures within it. You have many different ethnic groups, different languages, traditions within the tradition in a way, so the Islamic world is its self a symbol of unity that holds diversity,” Dr. Al Khemir said. She added that the collection features signs of other cultures because when people live together in a society they inevitably integrate. Dr. Al Khemir said she decided to bring the exhibit to Utah because there was no Islamic art there. “Many of the lenders asked me ‘Why Utah? Why BYU? There is no Islamic art in Utah’ I said precisely, we need to take Islamic art to Utah. Why BYU? Because here is a religious community who actually sincerely embraced the project…”
Dr. Al Khemir said Islamic art has provided her with a better understanding of her own culture, and she wants to share that with others.