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Islamic Art

Damascus Room

The Met's collection of Islamic art ranges in date from the 7th to the 19th century. Its nearly 12,000 objects reflect the great diversity and range of the cultural traditions of Islam, with works from as far westward as Spain and Morocco and as far eastward as Central Asia and India. Comprising sacred and secular objects, the collection reveals the mutual influence of artistic practices such as calligraphy, and the exchange of motifs such as vegetal ornament (the arabesque) and geometric patterning in both realms.

History of the Department

Although the Museum acquired some seals and jewelry from Islamic countries as early as 1874, and a number of Turkish textiles in 1879, it received its first major group of Islamic objects in 1891, as a bequest of Edward C. Moore. Since then, the collection has grown through gifts, bequests, and purchases, as well as through Museum-sponsored excavations at Nishapur, Iran, in 1935–39 and in 1947. Until 1932, when the Department of Near Eastern Art was established, all of these objects were overseen by the Department of Decorative Arts. By 1963, the number of objects had increased to a point that necessitated an official departmental division between the ancient Near Eastern and the Islamic portions of the collection, and the Department of Islamic Art was founded.

Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art Building Bridges Programs

From 2014 to 2016, The Met is presenting a wide range of programs that use the Museum's historic collection as a touchstone to celebrate the robust living traditions of the Islamic world. Participate in multifaceted events to explore the vibrancy, beauty, and diversity of Islamic cultures.

Made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Renovation and Reinstallation

On November 1, 2011, the Museum reopened its fifteen galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, after an eight-year project in which the galleries were renovated and reorganized in accordance with current thinking in the field and with modern museological practices. The galleries had last been renovated and reinstalled in 1975.

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Featured Media: Islamic Art

Detail of a 16th-century painting depicting a student and teacher looking at a text

In RumiNations, curators and guest authors will discuss the comprehensive collection of the Department of Islamic Art, its rich history at the Met, and the department's many programs.

Related Resources

Textile fragment

Explore the diversity of the Islamic world with the Met's online resources:

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Islamic Art

Resource for Educators: Art of the Islamic World

Family Guide: Dazzling Details (PDF)

Met Blogs: Posts on
Islamic Art