Work on Australia's first Islamic Museum, to be built in Melbourne, will begin in August after a $1.5 million grant was announced in last week's Federal Budget.
The $8 million museum will be built at a former industrial site in Thornbury and is expected to open to the public in early 2014.
The museum, the brainchild of former Macquarie Bank executive Moustafa Fahour, brother of Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour, will showcase Islamic history, culture and art with a particular focus on the contribution Australian Muslims have made to the country.
A permanent exhibition also will detail Islamic beliefs and practices.
"There is a Chinese museum, a Jewish Museum and an Italian museum, so it is only natural that there should be an Islamic museum," Islamic Museum of Australia board member Sherene Hassan said.
The museum is not waiting to be constructed to start exhibiting, however. Just last Friday, it had Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) launch its first exhibition.
Yusuf Islam, who became a Muslim in 1977, said the museum had "enormous potential" for promoting understanding of Muslim communities in Australia.
He said he was working on opening a similar centre in London, and would take back some ideas.
Yusuf Islam also launched a film and a coffee table book, Boundless Plains: The Australian Muslim Connection.
They were commissioned by the museum, along with an associated photographic exhibition.
Yusuf Islam provided the soundtrack for the Boundless Plains film, in which museum founder Moustafa Fahour and three other Muslim men go on a trip to explore Australia's Muslim history - from the Maccasan fishermen in Western Australia to the Afghan cameleers in the centre.
Also attending the launch was Senator Kate Lundy, who was representing Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
John Dagge, "Australia's first Islamic Museum to be built in Thornbury, Melbourne" Sunday Herald Sun May 13, 2012
Michael Gleeson, "Musician's plea for peace in Thornbury" Northcote Leader May 11, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today