06 January 2009

Sharjah - Museum of Islamic Civilization

Sharjah has long been known as the cultural capital of UAE and a few years back the city received the title of ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ by UNESCO. The city houses a good set of small museums. And unlike the proposed craziness of huge international franchise museums (Louvre, Guggenheim etc.) planned in neighbouring Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the museums here seems very grounded in the city’s own (and some times its regional) history and culture.

One of the latest museums to open here was the Museum of Islamic Civilization which opened in June last year a few months before a very similar museum opened in Doha –the Museum of Islamic Arts (which I blogged last month).

Though the one in Doha is a much more ambitious project both architecturally and collection wise, this one in Sharjah is not very far in spirit. Like most things in this city it’s modest and simple.
The museum itself is housed in a structure that is very reminiscent of the main Souk of the town, one almost wonders if the building was in fact designed as a shopping mall and was then converted into a museum. However, its small collection of art work and objects from all over the Islamic world is quiet impressive. Though strangely quiet a few of them are just photographs of actual artifacts!
And when I went to see this museum it had a great temporary exhibition of Islamic art works from a private collection in Kuwait.

Here are a few photos from that collection.
My favourite piece in this collection was this (below) amazing Pietre Dure panel from Mughal India.

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