Distinguished international consultant and longtime, former Metropolitan Museum of Art official will broaden the scope and reach of MFAH international initiatives
Initial focus is on Arts of the Islamic World program, now in its fifth year
Houston—April 20, 2012—Gary Tinterow, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, today announced the appointment of Mahrukh Tarapor as senior advisor for international initiatives for the MFAH. Dr. Tarapor is charged with broadening the reach and influence of MFAH international initiatives, including the securing of traveling exhibitions and loans of works of art; developing relationships with governments and cultural institutions globally; and developing new avenues for the exchange of scholarship. While Dr. Tarapor’s initial focus will be the museum’s Arts of the Islamic World program, her purview spans a broad range of international collaborations and projects.
“The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has established a remarkable core program for the presentation of art from Africa, Asia and the Islamic world, all accomplished through the extraordinary support of Houston’s diverse philanthropic communities,” Tinterow commented. “Thanks to this profound level of engagement in Houston, the MFAH is now poised to forge partnerships globally that will reinforce and promote all that has been accomplished here. Mahrukh Tarapor has been a distinguished and visionary figure in the sphere of international cultural collaboration for nearly 30 years. She is the ideal professional to move the international priorities of the MFAH ahead.”
About Mahrukh Tarapor
A widely recognized consultant for art museums and cultural institutions specializing in international initiatives and partnerships, Dr. Tarapor has been a leading figure for more than three decades in collaborations among cultural institutions, governments and museums. She is the longtime, former associate director for exhibitions and director for international affairs for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and she defined a leading role for the Metropolitan in the international exchange of scholarship and works of art, negotiating landmark loans worldwide for ambitious and acclaimed exhibitions. These presentations include Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, the first exhibition to bring together the dispersed art of Islamic Spain, presented at the Alhambra Palace in Granada (1992); The Glory of Byzantium (1997) and its sequel, Byzantium: Faith and Power 1261–1557 (2004); Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids (1999); China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200–750 AD (2004); and Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium BC from the Mediterranean to the Indus (2003) and its sequel, Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade and Diplomacy of the Second Millennium BC (2008).
Dr. Tarapor has initiated and managed other landmark collaborations overseas. Several of these projects resulted in the conservation and preservation of some of the most culturally significant artworks of the Islamic world, including the conservation of the great, 12th-century minbar, or wooden pulpit, of the Kutubiyya Mosque, with the Badi Palace in Marrakesh, Morocco; and the creation of new exhibition galleries at the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine at Sinai, Egypt, for the presentation of its unparalleled collection of Byzantine icons.
As the Metropolitan’s director for international affairs from 2006 to 2010, Dr. Tarapor was responsible for expanding and promoting the museum’s cultural relationships with museums and governments in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Dr. Tarapor is a member of the international advisory board of the Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul; a member of the board of directors of the American Associates of the Saint Catherine Foundation; and a former member (1992–2009) of the Bizot Group, an assembly of directors from the world’s leading museums that organize major international exhibitions. She has received numerous awards for her cultural contributions, including from the governments of France, Morocco and Spain.
Dr. Tarapor received her doctorate in English and art history from Harvard University in 1977. She lives in Mumbai and Geneva.
About the Arts of the Islamic World at the MFAH
Now in its fifth year, the Arts of the Islamic World program at the MFAH was established as an institutional commitment to collect, exhibit and interpret arts from the Islamic world. Since 2007, the museum has begun to develop a focused collection with an emphasis on quality and rarity of the objects. Among the most significant acquisitions of the past five years have been a 12th-century bronze incense burner in the form of a stylized feline figure from present-day Iran; a superb, elaborately illuminated 14th-century Qur’an from present-day Morocco; and a remarkable, early-16th-century tondino that originated in Iznik, south of Istanbul, then the center of production for one of the most distinctive types of ceramics in the Islamic world. The museum’s long-term goal is to establish a collection reflecting the regional, chronological and material diversity of the Islamic artistic tradition.
Since 2007 the program has brought to the MFAH significant exhibitions, including Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice, c. 1600–1900 (2007); Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam (2010); and Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts (2011). Related public and educational programming has provided extensive interpretive materials and expanded the reach of these exhibitions and their unique perspectives on the arts of the Islamic world throughout Houston and Texas.
About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Established in 1900, the MFAH is the largest art museum in the region. The museum’s main campus is located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District and comprises the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by Rafael Moneo; the Caroline Wiess Law Building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; and the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden for modern and contemporary work, designed by Isamu Noguchi. The Beck and Law buildings are connected underground by the Wilson Tunnel, which features James Turrell’s iconic installation The Light Inside (1999). Additional resources include the Glassell School of Art, a repertory cinema, two significant libraries, public archives and a conservation and storage facility. Nearby, two remarkable house museums—Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and Rienzi—present collections of American and European decorative arts.
The encyclopedic collections of the MFAH are especially strong in pre-Columbian and African gold; Renaissance and Baroque painting and sculpture; 19th- and 20th-century European and American art; photography; and Latin American art. The MFAH is also home to the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), a leading research institute for 20th-century Latin American and Latino art.
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