Australia's Long-Awaited Islamic Museum opens its Doors 3 March 2014
A new museum showcasing Islamic art, design and ingenuity has officially opened its doors to the public.
The Islamic Museum of Australia, located in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury, was declared open by Australia's treasurer Joe Hockey.
With a mission to highlight a singularly Australian expression of Islamic culture, the $10 million purpose-built space focuses on Muslim and Australian identity.
âThe support that we have tonight is phenomenal,â said Mr Moustafa Fahour, one of the museum's founders. âI heard a comment today where someone said that we as Australian Muslims feel proud that we contributed to this country. And to hear people from other faiths say the museum was amazing is, for me, the ultimate goal.â
"I think art is more universal and can really bring people from all faiths and cultures together and once you learn and understand you'll actually celebrate these differences," Mr. Fahour explained.
Even before you cross the threshold, it's clear that idea is embodied in the building's distinct design.
The large warehouse space is partially enveloped in Australian corten steel patterned with indigenous themes.
Where it wraps across the front entrance-way the rusted red steel meets a sleek grey front emblazoned with Arabic script quoting a passage from the Qur'an which translates to "so narrate to them the stories so that upon them they may reflect".
The route around the museum is a deliberate journey, starting with a space that explores elements of Islamic faith and efforts to explain concepts too often misunderstood or misrepresented; terms like "jihad" and "hajj" along with the origins of Islam.
Examples of archeology including early bone and ivory chess pieces from Afghanistan give way to modern art inspired by and created by Australian Muslims.
A special piece of their permanent collection has pride of place; a series of three beautifully painted surfboards inspired by the 2005 Cronulla Riots in Sydney .
Several notable Australian Muslims have been involved in this project, including the CEO of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour, who is serving as the museum's patron.
His brother Moustafa Fahour explains the project is an exercise in "enhancing the social cohesive and multicultural landscape and really give a window into the Islamic life and the Australian muslim history and contributions they've made to Australia and to civilisation."
He hopes people from right around the nation will embrace their mission.
Some may need to step outside their culture, others outside their comfort zone but what they step into will undoubtedly be worth the effort.
Prue Bentley, "Australia's first Islamic Museum opens in Melbourne" ABC Melbourne March 3, 2014
Saeed Saeed, "First Islamic museum in Australia launches in Melbourne with major UAE influence" UAE National February 28, 2014