CULTURE

Benaki announces creation of Museum of Islamic Art

The Benaki Museum is embarking on yet another chapter in its illustrious career, with the announcement of the creation of the Museum of Islamic Art to house its permanent collection of Islamic artifacts. To be housed in a neoclassical complex in Kerameikos, the museum is expected to open in 2004, and will have a dual purpose: of making Islamic art more widely known, while at the same time serving as a center for the study of Islamic civilization. The annex will also be used as a venue for temporary exhibitions and other events. An acquaintance with a great civilization, a civilization which has held and still holds a premium position in the history of mankind, said Angelos Delivorias, director of the Benaki Museum, referring to the museum’s role. The Benaki museum possesses an important collection of Islamic art, representing the civilization in its entirety, both through the ages and geographically, with pieces from the Arabic peninsula, countries of Northern Africa and all the way to Sicily and Spain. Certain collections in particular, from the sectors of ceramics, metalwork, glasswork, woodcarving, goldsmithery and weaving – to give some examples – are among the most substantial collections worldwide and they have represented the Benaki Museum in major exhibitions abroad, said Delivorias. ‘Glass of the Sultans’ The museum is also proud to announce an upcoming international exhibition of Islamic art, showcasing a selection of 140 spectacular glass objects dating from the 7th to the 19th century. Scheduled to open on February 20, 2002 (running to May 15), Glass of the Sultans is an exhibition organized by the Corning Museum of Glass and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (where it is currently on show), which will be displaying a number of pieces from collections in Berlin, Cleveland, Copenhagen, Kuwait, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Padua, Qatar, Tel Aviv, Venice and Vienna, among other cities. The exhibition’s sole European stop will be at the Benaki Museum. Inspired by the late antique tradition, the exhibition is a collection of stained and enameled objects representative of a flourishing period of Islamic art, as well as later glass objects originating in Persia and India. The exhibition, which will be organized thematically and in chronological order, will present major categories of glassware – blown glass, mold-brown glass, mosaic glass, cut and engraved glass, gilt and painted glass – demonstrating the wealth of shapes, designs, techniques and exquisite colors used by the various artists.