Russia's Pushkin Museum is presenting an international exhibition of works of classical Islamic art of the 9th-19th centuries. This is the first exhibition of its kind in Russia. It is a high-profile exhibition due to its multinational content and due to the fact that the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts is the largest museum of European art in Moscow.
A unique aspect of the exhibition is how it is themed. Each of the the exhibition's 99 masterpieces are of of world importance -- but they have also been selected according to the 99 numbered beautiful names of Allah.
The exhibition had its exclusive debut on 20 february 2013. Multinational exhibitions of this kind are extremely rare in Moscow, although Russia is a multicultural society
Support and artworks for the exhibition were provided by the Marjani Charitable Foundation.
"Unfortunately, in our museum collections, there is no significant section of Islamic culture," laments Irina Antonova, director of the Pushkin Museum. âAlthough our museum, the Pushkin Museum is a museum of world culture, there are significant sections that we have practically no representation, including, unfortunately, the art of Islam. Islamic culture, which is both immense and important for understanding the world in which we live, represents a large section of culture and art."
"African art is also virtually not represented," she adds. "We hope that this exhibition will enrich the knowledge of our many visitors and make an important contribution to the scientific and educational activities of our museum. I have scrutinised the exhibition carefully. I must say that I am very impressed by what I've seen, because the exhibits open up a world of culture an art of a very high aesthetic sense and aesthetic value... We can only regret that our museum does not exhibit them permanently."
"Islam is closely intertwined with the fate of Russia," Rustam Suleymanov, president of the Marjani Foundation, states. "This is not well-known, but if we remember our history - the Khanates in the territory of Russia, if we think of Central Asia, which was part of the territory of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, we now have the deepest connection with them, the history of the Caucasus, then, of course, we will understand that both Islam in general and Islamic culture are part of Russia and the Russian land. We can sit back and complain that we do not know it well enough, but we prefer to act. This exhibition is just one of these actions on our part. I hope that the project will appeal to everyone. It is believed that, like the names of the Creator, works of Islamic art reflect true beauty, the contemplation of which brings a person closer to God. But even if you are not of such a mindset, do not miss this opportunity to see these unique pieces of art, many of which are being exhibited for the first time."
The exhibition is not only thematically organised according to Allah's names, it is also chronologically divided into three historical periods: from the birth of Islam to the Mongol invasions, the Mongol period, and the post-Mongol period.
Source: "99 Islamic masterpieces" Vestnik Kavkaza February 28, 2013
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today