The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to Create New Galleries for Art of the Islamic Worlds, Slated to Open in Early 2023

The opening of the galleries culminates a major 15-year initiative at the MFAH to develop special exhibitions, new scholarship, signature acquisitions, and dynamic public programs.  

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Today, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, announced that new galleries devoted to art from historic Islamic lands will open to the public in early 2023. With the new galleries more than doubling the Museum’s current gallery space for Islamic art, the MFAH will be able to present its permanent collection, enhanced by a significant selection of Persian masterworks from the distinguished collection of Hossein Afshar, and the exceptional objects on loan from The al-Sabah Collection. The extended loans from the Afshar collection are the second such partnership initiated by the Museum, the first being the 2012 landmark agreement with The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait. The opening of the galleries culminates a major 15-year initiative at the MFAH to develop special exhibitions, new scholarship, signature acquisitions, and dynamic public programs.

The new galleries will be sited on the street level of the Mies van der Rohe–designed Caroline Wiess Law Building. While permanent gallery space has been devoted to Islamic art for almost a decade, with the new galleries, hundreds of additional works—exquisite paintings, manuscripts, ceramics, carpets, and metalwork spanning more than 1,000 years—will reflect the breadth of historic Islamic lands: present-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, and Morocco.

Ten years ago, we established a landmark partnership with The al-Sabah collection to share with the MFAH their extraordinary holdings of art from Islamic lands. We remain enormously grateful to Sheikha Hussa Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah and the late Sheikh Nasser al-Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah for that commitment, which continues today. These new and expanded permanent galleries devoted to Art of the Islamic Worlds are made possible by a new partnership with Hossein Afshar, creator of perhaps the most extensive collection of Iranian art in private hands. We are immensely grateful to Mr. Afshar, who has endowed a gallery for the Arts of Iran and placed his collection on long-term loan in Houston so that we may enhance our effort to reflect the city whose many communities we serve,” commented Gary Tinterow, Director and Margaret Alkek Williams Chair of the MFAH.

“The new galleries are a culmination of the strong partnership between the Museum, our dynamic Houston communities, and two extremely significant collections of Islamic art,” commented Aimée Froom, curator of Art of the Islamic Worlds at the MFAH. “We are proud to be one of the largest permanent displays in the United States for art of the Islamic worlds. The galleries are as diverse as Houston itself, and our goal is to continue to expand our presentation of the rich multiplicity of cultures and traditions as reflected in the extraordinary art from Islamic lands.”

December 09, 2022
Michael MK

Michael MK
Senior Editor & Writer

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