Islamic Art Goes Online With Launch Of Virtual Exhibitions

By Graham Spicer Published: 23 April 2007

screenshot of the discover islamic art in the mediterranean website

The Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean online exhibition series is part of the Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) Islamic Art website.

A new series of virtual exhibitions has been launched that explore the legacy of Islamic culture across the Mediterranean, linking the collections of 17 major museums.

Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean is part of the Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) Islamic Art website, which was created in 2005.

Partner museums include Egypt’s Islamic Art Museum, the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, Syria’s National Museum of Damascus and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul.

The British Museum, Glasgow Museums, National Museum of Scotland and the V&A make up the significant British contribution to the project.

screenshot from the discover islamic art website

18 online exhibitions explore the great Islamic dynasties of the Mediterranean and their cultural and artistic heritage.

The site explores the great Islamic dynasties of the Mediterranean and their cultural and artistic heritage. As well as concentrating on dynasties like the Umayyads, Abbasids and Mamluks they examine themes such as figurative art, calligraphy and the role of women.

A number of the exhibitions also focus on points of contact between the Islamic world and the west, taking in the crusades, the Mudéjar art of the Iberian peninsula, the Islamic influence in Sicily and western influence on the Ottoman Empire.

“It can be used by tourists who want to decide on the route of their journeys based on the things that they want to see, or history buffs and even young people who have to do research in class on ancient times,” said Mohammed Abbas Selim, MWNF spokesman at the project launch in Cairo.

The online exhibitions were conceived by some 90 curators and experts from the contributing museums and take in the era between AD 661, when the Umayyad Caliphate was established in Damascus, to the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1922.

screenshot of a map of mediterranean

The website's permanent collection features an interactive map of Europe and the Mediterranean. MWNF

They link 204 monuments and sites along with 603 artefacts from collections in 14 countries, from Morocco to Portugal and Syria to Sweden.

Artefacts from British collections include a rare 10th-11th century Fatimid rock-crystal bottle kept in the British Museum and a crusader sword and spur from the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

The site is available in eight languages - Arabic, French, English, Turkish, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish - and joins the Discover Islamic Art’s permanent web exhibition, which provides country-by-country information on the sites and artefacts.

MWNF was set up in 1994 to promote an understanding of different cultures through cooperation between museums across countries and plans to launch its next online project - Discover Baroque Art - in autumn 2007.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: