Exhibition presented as part of
2022 Year of Culture
25 October 2022, Doha – Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, today opened the Baghdad: Eye’s Delight exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA). The exhibition, on view at MIA’s Temporary Exhibition Gallery until 25 February 2023, introduces and celebrates the significance of Baghdad under the Abbasid dynasty (750-1258) and its influential impact in the region and around the world up until today. Baghdad: Eye’s Delight highlights Iraq’s capital as a political, economic, and intellectual hub during a period that was one of the most innovative in world history. The exhibition is presented as part of Qatar-MENASA 2022 Year of Culture, an international cultural exchange designed to deepen understanding between nations and their people and Qatar Creates, the year-round national cultural movement that curates, promotes, and celebrates the diversity of cultural activities in Qatar.
The presentation explores Baghdad’s role as a great intellectual and artistic city that has attracted scholars and philosophers from around the world and document the city’s tremendous resilience in face of war, violence, and destruction through its history. The exhibition highlights how Baghdad continued to endure, building on the memories of its Abbasid heritage.
Baghdad: Eye’s Delight is jointly curated by Dr. Julia Gonnella, Director, Museum of Islamic Art and the museum’s curatorial team: Dr. Mounia Chekhab Abudaya, Dr. Tara Desjardins, Nicoletta Fazio and Simone Struth. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with important contributions by distinguished international scholars.
“The Museum of Islamic Art is delighted to mark its recent reopening with Baghdad: Eye’s Delight, an exhibition celebrating a remarkable city that has made significant contributions to art, science and intellectual studies in the region. We invite residents and the influx of visitors to Qatar for the World Cup to visit the exhibition to learn more about Baghdad and to challenge their perceptions of what they know and understand about this significant city and its fascinating history,” Dr. Gonnella said.
Baghdad: Eye’s Delight pays homage to the city’s “glorious” past, concentrating on the Baghdad of the 20th century, focusing especially (but not only) on the period between the 1940s and 1970’s when Baghdad once again became a thriving place with vibrant city life. The display comprises 160 objects, including loaned works from Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City; Louvre Museum, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Islamic Art (SMB), Berlin; Oriental Department, State Library (SBB), Berlin; Bavarian State Library, Munich; The David Collection, Copenhagen; Benaki Museum, Athens; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; Dia Al-Azzawi Collection, London; TheBritish Library, London; and Chester Beatty, Dublin. An immersive exhibition design includes scenographic elements, including a depiction of the River Tigris on the floor of the exhibition that serves to connect the different themes.
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition, City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982 on MIA’s level four spotlights built and unbuilt work by 11 architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Josep Lluís Sert, Alvar and Aino Aalto, and Robert Venturi FAIA. The exhibition, curated by Prof. Pedro Azara was organised by the Barcelona Delegation of the Col. d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC) in Barcelona in 2012 and then became a travelling exhibition that was displayed in the United States (New York, Boston – MIT), Ramallah and Baghdad.
Museum of Islamic Art
Founded in 2008, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) was one of the first projects initiated by QM. Designed by the renowned Chinese American architect I. M. Pei, the MIA is a globally acclaimed museum that stands majestically on Doha’s Corniche, with panoramic views of the city’s waterfront. The museum showcases Qatar’s world-class collections of Islamic art spanning some 1,400 years. Representing the full scope of Islamic art from the 7th to the 20th centuries, the MIA collection includes manuscripts, ceramics, metal, glass, ivory, textiles, wood, and precious stones. The works have been collected from three continents, including countries across the Middle East, and reaching as far as Spain and China. MIA presents a changing programme of exhibitions illustrating the heritage of the Islamic world, as well as extensive educational activities for school children and families, making the museum a vital part of the community. The MIA has become a popular museum in the region and internationally, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Dr. Julia Gonnella has served as director of the museum since 2017.