Sackler Gallery Announces New Opening Date and Programs for First Major U.S. Exhibition of Qur’ans   

Detail, Qur’an; Attributed to calligrapher Abd Allah al-Sayrafi; Probably Iraq, Il-Khanid period, first half of 14th century; Ink, color, and gold on paper; 50 x 35.5 cm; Istanbul Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, TIEM 487.

Landmark Exhibition Will Be Open Oct. 22 Through Feb. 20, 2017 

The first major exhibition of Qur’ans (Korans) in the U.S., “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts” at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, will now open Saturday, October 22. It will be on view through February. Opening-day programs for all ages will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. and include curator tours, family-friendly hands-on art activities, storytelling performances and live demonstrations of calligraphy and illumination. The full schedule is available in the events section of the museum’s website.

Schedule of Events
All events take place on Sackler sublevel 1 unless otherwise noted.

11 am, 3 pm: Exhibition Tours with Curators Massumeh Farhad and Simon Rettig
Join the curators of The Art of the Qur’an to tour highlights of this unprecedented exhibition and hear fascinating stories about the works.

11 am, 12 pm, 3 pm: Stories from the Qur’an: Musical Performance by Roshni Samlal and Kane Mathis
Take part in an interactive musical storytelling performance for all ages.

12:30 pm, 2:30 pm: Family-Friendly Tours
Sackler sublevel 2, ImaginAsia classroom
Explore the exhibition on an intergenerational tour.

1 pm: Conversation: Master Calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya with Aisha Imam
Meet an internationally renowned master of calligraphy as he discusses his training and technique with one of his senior students.

2 pm: Demonstration: Live Calligraphy by Elinor Aishah Holland
Watch a calligrapher at work, see her materials up close, and ask questions.

Ongoing Activities

12–4 pm: Open Studio: Dazzling Designs of the Qur’an
Sackler sublevel 2, ImaginAsia classroom
Experience the illuminated designs in the Qur’an by getting creative. Tea and refreshments provided. All ages welcome with an adult companion.

1–5 pm: Demonstration: Artisan Sughra Hussainy at Work
Sackler sublevel 3, Turquoise Mountain
Drop by to watch as a painter and calligrapher visiting from Afghanistan demonstrates the materials and techniques of her crafts.

The landmark exhibition, organized by the Sackler and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art in collaboration with the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul, will feature more than 60 Qur’ans, among the most important ever produced from the Arab world, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, including works from the permanent collection of the Freer and Sackler galleries plus a number of long-term loans. Celebrated for their superb calligraphy and lavish illumination, the manuscripts span almost 1,000 years of history-from eighth-century Damascus, Syria, to 17th-century Istanbul.

This landmark exhibition tells the individual stories of some of these extraordinary manuscripts, their makers and their owners. Visitors will learn how the Qur’an was transformed from an orally transmitted message into a fixed text, transcribed and illuminated by some of the most skilled artists of the Islamic world and treasured and disseminated by sultans and viziers over centuries.

The Freer and Sackler galleries have one of the most celebrated collections of arts from the Islamic world in the U.S. They have presented other major exhibitions featuring important religious objects and publications, including “The Tibetan Shrine from the Alice S. Kandell Collection” in 2010 and “In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000” in 2006.


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