New Galleries for Art of the Islamic Worlds Opens March 5, 2023


Included with general admission. Get tickets here.

The Museum’s galleries for art of the Islamic worlds present, for the first time, the full extent of the MFAH holdings in Islamic art, enhanced by a significant selection of Persian masterworks on extended loan from the distinguished collection of Hossein Afshar. Carefully assembled over the past 50 years, the Afshar Collection conveys the rich artistic traditions of Iranian civilization from the 7th to 19th century, in exquisite paintings, significant ceramics, precious inlaid metal ware, and finely woven silk fabrics and carpets.

The MFAH has devoted permanent gallery space to Islamic art since 2012, and the new Afshar galleries nearly double previous display space for Islamic art. Hundreds of objects spanning more than 1,000 years reflect the breadth of historic Islamic lands, including present-day Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Türkiye, and Uzbekistan.

Gallery Overview
With nearly 6,000 square feet of space, the galleries highlight a trove of major, and in many cases rare, objects never before displayed in such depth. Showcasing the similarities and diversity of Iranian art across cultures, communities, regions, and time, the presentation is organized into six galleries that outline fundamental aspects of Islamic art.

  • Introduction to Art of the Islamic Worlds
  • Early Iranian Art from the Hossein Afshar Collection
  • Later Iranian Art from the Hossein Afshar Collection
  • Sacred and Secular Arts of the Book
  • Blue and White between China and Iran
  • The Fabric of Life: Textiles and Carpets of Islamic Lands

Partnerships
The galleries are a culmination of the strong partnership between the Museum, Houston’s dynamic communities, and a major, longtime initiative at the MFAH to develop special exhibitions, new scholarship, signature acquisitions, and dynamic public programs in Islamic art. The extended loans from the Afshar Collection are the second such partnership initiated by the Museum. In 2012, a landmark agreement with The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, placed several hundred objects from that exceptional collection of art from Islamic lands on extended loan to the MFAH.

The opening of the Art of the Islamic Worlds galleries marks more than 15 years since the launch of the Art of the Islamic Worlds initiative at the MFAH. The effort was established in 2007 by a patron group unique to Houston: philanthropists with strong cultural-heritage links to historically Islamic lands, who have committed to supporting acquisitions of Islamic art across centuries and cultures—from North Africa to China; Central Asia to South Asia. Since the initiative’s start, exhibitions, acquisitions, scholarly research, and international collaboration have brought the achievements of Islamic artistic traditions to Houston and global audiences.

Galleries for Art of the Islamic Worlds / Opening March 5, 2023

Location

Caroline Wiess Law Building
1001 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005
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