HER HIGHNESS SHEIKHA MOZA OPENS BAGHDAD: EYE’S DELIGHT EXHIBITION AT MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART

Exhibition presented as part of the Qatar-MENASA 2022 Year of Culture

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, today opened the Baghdad: Eye’s Delight exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). The exhibition, on view at MIA’s Temporary Exhibition Gallery until February 25, 2023, introduces and celebrates the significance of Baghdad under the Abbasid dynasty (750-1258) and its influential impact in the region and around the world up until today. Baghdad: Eye’s Delight highlights Iraq’s capital as a political, economic, and intellectual hub during a period that was one of the most innovative in world history. The exhibitionis presented as part of Qatar-MENASA 2022 Year of Culture, an international cultural exchange designed to deepen understanding between nations and their people and Qatar Creates, the year-round national cultural movement that curates, promotes, and celebrates the diversity of cultural activities in Qatar.

The presentation explores Baghdad’s role as a great intellectual and artistic city that has attracted scholars and philosophers from around the world and document the city’s tremendous resilience in face of war, violence, and destruction through its history. The exhibition highlights how Baghdad continued to endure, building on the memories of its Abbasid heritage.

Baghdad: Eye’s Delight is jointly curated by Dr. Julia Gonnella, Director, Museum of Islamic Art and the museum’s curatorial team: Dr. Mounia Chekhab Abudaya, Dr. Tara Desjardins, Nicoletta Fazio and Simone Struth. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with important contributions by distinguished international scholars.

“The Museum of Islamic Art is delighted to mark its recent reopening with Baghdad: Eye’s Delight, an exhibition celebrating a remarkable city that has made significant contributions to art, science and intellectual studies in the region. We invite residents and the influx of visitors to Qatar for the World Cup to visit the exhibition to learn more about Baghdad and to challenge their perceptions of what they know and understand about this significant city and its fascinating history,” Dr. Gonnella said.

Baghdad: Eye’s Delight pays homage to the city’s “glorious” past, concentrating on the Baghdad of the 20th century, focusing especially (but not only) on the period between the 1940s and 1970’s when Baghdad once again became a thriving place with vibrant city life. The display comprises 160 objects, including loaned works from Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City; Louvre Museum, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Islamic Art (SMB), Berlin; Oriental Department, State Library (SBB), Berlin; Bavarian State Library, Munich; The David Collection, Copenhagen; Benaki Museum, Athens; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; Dia Al-Azzawi Collection, London; The British Library, London; and Chester Beatty, Dublin. An immersive exhibition design includes scenographic elements, including a depiction of the River Tigris on the floor of the exhibition that serves to connect the different themes. 

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition, City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982 on MIA’s level four spotlights built and unbuilt work by 11 architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Josep Lluís Sert, Alvar and Aino Aalto, and Robert Venturi FAIA. The exhibition, curated by Prof. Pedro Azara was organised by the Barcelona Delegation of the Col. d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC) in Barcelona in 2012 and then became a travelling exhibition that was displayed in the United States (New York, Boston – MIT), Ramallah and Baghdad.

Also, currently on view at MIA until March 2023 is Raku Kichizaemon XV: Jikinyū’ – A Living Tradition of Japanese Pottery, displaying a set of fourteen ceremonial tea bowls inspired by Qatar’s natural environment and people, featuring the poetry of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed bin Thani, founder of Qatar.

The exhibition unveilings follow the recent reopening of MIA after the museum underwent a facilities enhancement project that included the reimagination and reinstallation of its permanent collection galleries. One of the world’s premier institutions of Islamic art and the first world class museum in the region, the reimagined MIA provides a more accessible, engaging, and educational experience for guests. More than 1,000 objects – many newly conserved or acquired – are displayed in the Museum’s permanent galleries for the first time, alongside the masterpieces for which MIA has long been recognised.

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