Berlin’s Museum of Islamic Art, which is housed in the southern wing of the Pergamon Museum, has received a donation of $10 million by Alwaleed Bin Talal, the billionaire investor, philanthropist, and member of the Saudi royal family, in support of its exhibitions and educational programming.
Gifted through his Riyadh-based charitable foundation — Alwaleed Philanthropies — the donation will be distributed over the next 10 years and will fund a permanent display of Islamic art to be installed at the Pergamon Museum, followed by a major renovation project, and the institution’s Multaka program, which trains refugees to be museum guides.
Stefan Weber, director of the Museum of Islamic Art, said, “We are happy to have found a partner with Alwaleed Philanthropies...The foundation has set its cultural and charitable goals beyond the politically difficult and volatile situation in the Middle East — and will continue to do so in the future. In a world of growing populist and extremist currents, such partnerships can help promote open-mindedness in how we view ourselves and others.”
According to the website of the foundation, Alwaleed Philanthropies works to combat poverty, empower women and children, provide disaster relief, and enhance cultural understanding through education.
The Museum of Islamic Art (Museum fur Islamische Kunst) is located in the same building that houses the Pergamon Museum. Its rich collection begins prior to the Islamic period in the Middle East (there are some good Sasanian objects) and contains some of the most famous exhibits, perhaps the best known being the facade of the Umayyad Palace at Mshatta in Jordan. Most of the objects on display attest to the cultural interaction across Asia whereby Chinese ceramics had an impact on ceramic design in the Middle East. Together with seminal work of architecture, the collection’s array of objects spanning all genres are testimony to the high aesthetic, artistic, artisanal, and technical skills of the masters who crafted them. These objects boast a bewildering and intense sense of color, shape, and pattern. They include centuries-old pages of the Quran, with their splendidly colorful decorations, prayer rugs, ivory carvings, and the dazzling turquoise faience mosaics of ‘mihrabs’ (prayer niches). The collection’s holdings span all epochs of Islamic history from the 7th to 19th century, as well as various Old South Arabian antiquities and ancient Iranian artefacts that allow the visitor to explore this culture.
Founder: Louise Blouin