'Entertainment on a Palace terrace'. Photo: ACM
Until 28 October 2012, Singaporeans are in for a rare treat – a travelling exhibition called ‘Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Architecture in Islamic Arts’ displayed for the first time here at the Asian Civilizations Museum, showcasing Islamic art and architecture spanning over a millennium.
This exhibition will be a burst of colour at the museum. Featuring manuscript illumination, tiles inscribed with texts from the Qu’ran, Hajj certificates, paintings and architectural elements- this exhibition is an illustration of space and decoration in different environments of the Islamic environment.
It is also meant to offer viewers a glimpse into the rich worlds of some of Islam’s greatest dynasties, the al-Andalus and Moors of the Iberian Peninsula, Iran’s Ilkhanid, Safavid and Timurid dynasties, as well as the Indian Mughals, and the Ottomans of Turkey.
This, and a parallel exhibition, ‘Islamic Arts from Southeast Asia’, bring to the forefront detailed artworks and pieces of architecture from the Iranian and Ottoman empires, among others.
There are five parts to the exhibit, beginning with “The Fortress and The City”. This part showcases pieces of Islamic architecture, such as corbels and arches, and illustrated depictions of fortified cities and towns. “Sacred Topographies” takes us to the holiest sites of Mecca and Medina, where guests can glimpse at what it was like to make the Hajj.
'Moses Regrets His Generosity Towards the Intemperate Man'. Photo: ACM
Inspect mosque furnishings, calligraphic inscriptions and manuscript illuminations of mosques and shrines at the “Religious and Funerary Buildings” section. You can also get a sense of courtly grandeur at when they reach the fourth part, entitled “The Palace”. Finally, “Gardens, Pavilions and Tents” illustrate what life was like outside the palace walls, into nature where activities of leisure, pleasure, battles and conquests often took place.
To illuminate and increase the learning experience, the museum has created two special activities. There is a special interactive high tech section where guests can create wonderful patterns inspired by Islamic designs that will be projected onto the wall.
There will also be a scavenger hunt of sorts, where guests solve a mystery via clues in the gallery. On 8 to 9 September, a special weekend festival will take place, where there will be great foods of West Asia, enthralling dance performances and craft making activities for the young ones.
Singapore is the final destination of this exhibition, which started seven years ago. The artefacts will return to their final residence, the brand new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto due to open in 2013.
Said Dr. Alan Chong, director of the Asian Civilisations Museum, “Architecture is one of the most visible aspects of Islamic culture. We hope that visitors will gain new insights into the history and creativity of the Islamic world.”