Part of the exhibition Pearls of Wisdom: The Arts of Islam at the University of Michigan, October 15–December 21, 2014 at the Kelsey Museum
In October 2011 the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened fifteen new galleries, devoted to the art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. To date, nearly two million people have visited the galleries, which continue to be among the most popular permanent installations in the museum. This lecture will describe the organization of the galleries and the challenges faced during the conceptualization, design and installation phases, strategies for outreach, education and public programming, and what the Department of Islamic Art is doing now that the cream of its collection is on view.
In October 2009 Dr. Sheila Canby was appointed Patti Cadby Birch Curator in Charge of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She had served as Curator of Islamic Art and Antiquities at the British Museum from 1991 to 2009. Before that she curated the Islamic collections in several American museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. She received her MA and PhD from Harvard University. Her publications include Shah `Abbas and the Imperial Treasures of Iran (2009), Islamic Art in Detail (2005), Hunt for Paradise: Court Arts of Safavid Iran, 1501-76, co-editor with Jon Thompson (2003), The Golden Age of Persian Art, 1501-1722 (1999), Rebellious Reformer: The Drawings and Paintings of Riza-yi `Abbasi of Isfahan (1996), Persian Painting (1993), and The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp (2011 and 2014). She is presently working on an exhibition of Seljuq art scheduled to open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015. In October 2011 her department opened the galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sheila Canby, Patti Cadby Birch Curator of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art