Qatar gave the Metropolitan Museum of Art a ‘generous’ gift to boost its Islamic art department

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has received a “generous donation” from Qatar Museums, a cultural arm of the Qatari government that oversees many institutions in the country.

The donation, announced today, coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Met’s galleries opening for art from the Arab lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and later Asia from South. A Met spokesperson declined to elaborate on what the gift entails. However, a Press release makes it clear that it is money, noting that it will be used to “support, among other things, the Department of Islamic Art as well as investment projects within the museum.”

In recognition of this donation, the Met will name its gallery showcasing art from the Umayyad and Abbasid periods (7th-13th centuries) “Qatar Gallery”.

“This donation is the latest example of the long-standing relationship between our institutions and marks the start of a broad collaboration encompassing the exchange of exhibitions, programs and scientific cooperation,” said Max Hollein, director of the Met, in a press release.

“This vital support,” he continued, “is particularly meaningful as we mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the refurbished Met Galleries, which continue to be a source of great interest and inspiration to our million annual visitors.

As Hollein mentioned, the Met’s partnership with Qatar’s museums goes back many years.

Qatar’s museums have loaned pieces from its collections to multiple Met exhibitions, including ‘Jerusalem in the Middle Ages’ (2016), ‘Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy’ (2015), ‘The Great Age of the Seljuks” (2016) and “Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey” (2019).

Next month, the Met will return the favor by loaning works from its own collection to a special exhibition at the newly refurbished Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. The exhibition, titled “Baghdad: the pleasure of the eyesfocuses on the titular city’s historical role as a cultural center in the Arab world, with particular emphasis on the art of the Abbasid period. The opening is scheduled for October 26.

A Met representative also mentioned that the museum will soon announce an exhibition of museum works that will travel to Qatar.

“The establishment of the Qatar Gallery at the Met highlights the collegiality between our institutions and our desire to advance a crucial goal that we share in common, to increase appreciation of the art of the Islamic world everywhere,” said Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa. Al Thani, President of Qatar Museums. “We are proud to partner with the Met to honor the beauty, depth and variety of a global tradition that spans fourteen centuries.”

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James C. Tibbs