MIA celebrates 10th anniversary with ‘Syria Matters’ exhibition
November 21 2018 10:12 PM
The ‘Bird of Prey’ is one of most notable objects at the exhibition
The ‘Bird of Prey’ is one of most notable objects at the exhibition

The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) marked its 10th anniversary on Wednesday with the opening of ‘Syria Matters’ exhibition, featuring over 100 artefacts dating back from Syria’s early pre-Islamic period (ninth century BCE).

Held under the patronage of Qatar Museums (QM) chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the celebration was attended by HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, and other dignitaries.

Speaking at a press tour yesterday, MIA director Dr Julia Gonnella said that the exhibition, which will run until April 30, is divided into five sections, shedding light on Syria’s rich architectural and cultural history.

“We are marking our 10th anniversary with a major exhibition, dedicated to Syria, a cradle of civilisation, as part of our commitment to safeguarding the rich culture that has been tragically lost in the civil war,” said Dr Gonnella, who also co-curated the exhibition with special curator Rania Abdellatif.

MIA director Dr Julia Gonnella shows ‘The Cavour Vase’ to HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, on Wednesday at the opening of 'Syria Matters' exhibition.

“Through this exhibition, we hope to remind people why Syria ‘matters’ and why preserving its heritage and legacy should be of utmost importance,” the MIA director stressed.

Syria Matters, which showcases artefacts from MIA and other QM institutions, notably the Orientalist Museum, as well as the Qatar National Library and the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Museum, focuses on five historical moments relevant to the Middle East.

A human-size sculpture dubbed as ‘Bird of Prey’, “thought to be the embodiment of a supernatural being”, and ‘The Cavour Vase’, one of the finest examples Mamluk enamelled glass, are among the significant items at the exhibition.

According to QM, visitors will be taken on a journey through time and space featuring immersive and innovative digital renderings of Syria’s key heritage sites by the French company Iconem, including Damascus, Aleppo and Palmyra, much of which was left in ruins because of the seven-year long civil war.

Dr Gonnella said they secured international loans from Hermitage in St Petersburg, Louvre in Paris, Berlin’s Museum of Ancient Near Eastern Art, Berlin State Library, British Library and Turk ve Eserleri Müzesi in Istanbul.

In addition to the exhibition, MIA will also hold various performances, lectures, workshops, family activities and book discussions in the next few months for people of all ages aimed at educating the public about Syria.

Renowned Syrian musician Kinan Azmeh and Syrian Armenian artist Kevork Mourad will have a concert tomorrow (Friday) at 7pm titled ‘Home Within’ followed by Dr Gonnella’s ‘Syria Matters’ lecture on November 27 at 6pm.

She will discuss the exhibition and its key themes, as well as the first Syrian-themed book club tackling Syrian Folktales by Muna Imady on November 28 at 5pm.

Meanwhile, MIA Park’s own version of the famous Souq Al Hamediya also opened yesterday and will run until December 23 from 2pm to 10pm daily.

It introduces visitors to the famous Souq in Damascus and offers a wide variety of Syrian-made items such as clothes, embroideries, handicrafts, antiques and art, food, sweets and toys by Syrian vendors.

About MIA’s 10th anniversary celebration, Dr Gonnella said the iconic museum has been telling the story of Islamic art – drawing from resources spanning three continents and over 1,400 years of history since it opened.

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