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Historic agreement brings Islamic art treasures to MFAH: H-Town's Kuwait ties, George Bush cited

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MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Lidded cup and tray
Lidded cup and saucer, India, c. mid-17th century, fabricated from gold with champlevé and painted enamels, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Inscribed emerald pendant
Emerald inscribed with the Throne Verse from the Qur’an (II:255), India, 17th century, emerald, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
Gary Tinterow, MFAH, August 2012
Gary Tinterow Photo by F. Carter Smith
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Gold mohur (coin)
Gold mohur (coin), India, struck 1639, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Pair of bronze of vases
Pair of vases, Afghanistan, 12th century, bronze, silver and copper, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Gemset jade inkwell
Inkstand,. India, c. mid-17th century, carved from nephrite jade, inlaid with gold and set with rubies and emeralds, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Folio from a Qur’an manuscript
Folio from a Qur’an manuscript, Afghanistan, 9th-10th century, ink, colors and gold on vellum, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Folio depicting a water clock
Folio depicting a water clock from the treatise of automata Kitab fi Ma’rifat al-Hiyal al-Handasiya (The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices) by Badi’ al-Saman ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari, Syria, dated Ramadan 715 AH/December 1315, ink, colors and gold on paper, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Emerald and diamond turban ornament
Turban ornament, India, second half 17th century, fabricated in gold with champlevé and over-painted enamels set with emeralds and diamonds, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Brass candlestick inlaid with silver
Candlestick, Egypt, 14th century, brass inlaid with silver, courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait Photo courtesy of The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Lidded cup and tray
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Inscribed emerald pendant
Gary Tinterow, MFAH, August 2012
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Gold mohur (coin)
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Pair of bronze of vases
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Gemset jade inkwell
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Folio from a Qur’an manuscript
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Folio depicting a water clock
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Emerald and diamond turban ornament
MFAH, Arts of Islamic Lands, al-Sabah Collection, November 2012, Brass candlestick inlaid with silver

One of the world's most renowned collections of Islamic art will make its way to the Bayou City in 2013, thanks to a new exchange agreement between the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the celebrated Kuwaiti cultural institution Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah (DAI).

MFAH director Gary Tinterow and DAI director Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah finalized an arrangement that will bring roughly 60 objects from the al-Sabah Collection to the MFAH's Law Building for a year-long exhibit starting January 26, 2013.

"With a single stroke, we'll be able to show the amazing development of Islamic visual culture from the 8th to the 18th centuries."

In a gallery fully dedicated to the collection which is owned by the DIA director herself along with husband Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah Houstonians will see an unprecedented cross-section of art from the Islamic world with items ranging from woven carpets and architectural fragments to ceramics, metalwork and scientific instruments.

Throughout the duration of the five-year commitment, the MFAH will reciprocate with staff exchanges and training. At a future date, the museum also will loan artwork and exhibitions.

"With a single stroke, we'll be able to show the amazing development of Islamic visual culture from the 8th to the 18th centuries," Tinterow tells CultureMap. "From rugs to carpentry to jewelry, this is a rare opportunity to see such high quality examples — all in one place."

The Houston exhibit covers not only art made in the Middle East and Central Asia, but also work created on the Iberian Peninsula and across North Africa to highlight the manner in which aesthetics based on calligraphy and geometry would evolve throughout the entire Muslim sphere. Artistic renderings of the written word will be seen in illuminated manuscripts, stone capitals, textiles and metal work. Intricate geometric ornamentation, meanwhile, can be found on a 15th-century ceiling panel and a Mamluk rug from Egypt.

Houstonians will see an unprecedented cross-section of art.

Also included will be a collection of jewelry from the Mughal Empire, a number of pieces of which were on view at the MFAH in 2002 for an exhibit called Treasury of the World. Director Sheikha Hussah al-Sabah marks that early show as the beginning of DAI's close working relationship with its Texas museum partner.

“It was a son of Houston, the Honorable George H.W. Bush, who spearheaded the UN coalition that liberated Kuwait from Iraq in 1991," she says in a statement.

"Houston and Kuwait share much more than a common interest in oil production; there is also a common interest in learning from and about other cultures. We are proud that, together, the MFAH and the DAI will give all the people of Houston a new opportunity for sharing."

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