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The Metropolitan Museum's collection of Islamic art, which ranges in date from the seventh to the nineteenth century, reflects the great diversity and range of Islamic culture and offers perhaps the most comprehensive permanent installation of Islamic art on view anywhere. Nearly 12,000 objects created in the cultural tradition of the world's youngest monotheistic religion (Islam, founded in A.D. 622, means "submission to God") have been assembled at the Metropolitan from as far westward as Spain and Morocco and as far eastward as Central Asia and India. While many of these objects were originally intended for decoration of a mosque or for use during worship, domestic and luxury objects in the collection reveal the mutual influence of artistic practice in the sacred and secular realms. In particular, the traditions of calligraphy, vegetal ornament (the arabesque), and geometric patterning are strongly expressed in most pieces on view. To dispel a common misconception: Islam's supposed prohibition against figural art is confined to the religious sphere. As just one example, many representations of people are to be found in the department's outstanding assemblage of miniature paintings—strictly secular in nature—from the courts of Iran and Mughal India. Other strengths of the Metropolitan's collection include ceramics and textiles from all parts of the Islamic world; some of the finest Islamic carpets in existence from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and glass and metalwork from Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia. The galleries are currently projected to reopen in 2011. While they are closed, important objects from the collection can be seen throughout the Museum in various locations.
Venue: Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)
1000 5th Ave
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