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Monday, August 2, 2021

MIA’s first Palestine exhibition explores historical heritage

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The “Beautiful Memories of Palestine” exhibition will run at MIA library until 30 September.

Palestinian embroidery, old travel guides to Jerusalem and rare books showcasing Palestine’s history are now available for the public to view as part of the latest exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art’s [MIA] library.

Titled “Beautiful Memories of Palestine”, a joint collaboration with local community project Palestine House, displays cultural artwork, fashion and offers a pictorial journey via travel journals published as far back as the 1800’s.

“A series of programmes are planned alongside the exhibition including webinars, and embroidery and landscape painting workshops. The exhibition can also be viewed online through the library page of MIA’s website,” Susan Parker Leavy, head of the MIA library, told Doha News.

The exhibition was initially planned two years ago as part of the ‘Doha Capital of Culture of the Islamic World’ celebrations to present the library’s rare book collection, which displays over 21,000 publications, making it one of the largest in the region.

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Previously, the books were part of a collection owned by Sheikh Saud bin Muhammed Al Thani, a former minister of culture, arts and heritage who was also known as a prominent art collector in Qatar who believed it was essential for people to get a close look at historical gems.

“The idea behind the exhibition is that we wanted people to see the beauty of the past of Palestine,” said Leavy, adding that the timing of the exhibition is also relevant considering the latest events in Palestine.

The books also show illustrations by travellers who visited Palestine in the past and documented their journey to share the beauty of the country via postcards.

In one book, a British engineer’s watercolour paintings highlights different sites in Palestine. The artwork was drawn up for his mother back home to see. Years later, they were discovered by the engineer’s granddaughter who used a typewriter to type up letters he sent along with the drawings.

In addition to its collaboration with the Palestine House, MIA’s library also collaborated with the Arab Capital of Culture, an initiative founded by the UNESCO under the Cultural Capitals programme that aims to promote the region’s rich heritage.

This is also MIA library’s first exhibition on Palestine.

“The message of the exhibition is to show the past beauty of the countryside, the mosques and the historic sites of Palestine. The books included in this exhibition range from 1610 CE to 1930 CE and are largely published in European languages,” explained Leavy.

“The Arab world has always been a source of great fascination for Europeans as these books show,” she added.

People of all ages can visit the library to access a wide variety of books and artwork while also getting the chance to sit down and colour pages of Palestinian patterns.

“We have created some programmes specially for children including: a story time, colouring activity and a children’s tree for Palestine on which they can hang art works and provide a message of peace,” said Leavy.

There will also be an in-person embroidery workshop for adults on 11-12 July where a professional Palestinian designer will be walking people through the process behind creating the unique traditional patterns while also explaining their cultural significance.

The exhibition will run until 30 September and is open to the public on weekdays from 9am until 7pm. On Fridays, access is allowed between 1pm and 7pm.


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