Philbrook hosts largest Islamic art exhibit in state history

Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam through Time & Place runs June 23 to Oct. 6


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Starting Sunday, June 23, visitors to the Philbrook Museum of Art will have the opportunity to see what museum officials describe as the largest exhibit of Islamic art in state history.

"Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam through Time & Place" features more than 150 works spanning over 1,200 years.

The exhibit, which runs through Oct. 6, highlights aspects of faith, culture, and daily lives of Muslims across the globe and throughout time. Works include textiles, clothing, furniture, metalwork, paintings, photography and calligraphy.

Philbrook officials and local religious leaders on Thursday hosted a preview of the exhibition, with many people speaking to the importance of the show.

“This really adds to Philbrook’s mission and legacy of bringing the entire spectrum of art and culture to our galleries,” says Scott Stulen, director and president of Philbrook Museum of Art. “This exhibition will introduce the beauty and rich history of the incredible reach of the Islamic world. It’s simply a stunning show.”

Lifelong Tulsan, Aliye Shimi, who is the executive director of the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, said the Wondrous Worlds exhibit is among the best she’s seen, comparing it to an exhibit at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

“Being a born and bred Muslim, I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am to Scott and everybody at Philbrook for bringing this exhibit here, especially in the time we live in right now with the political climate and rhetoric about some of the misconceptions about Muslims and other cultures as well,” says Shimi.  “I hope it will be able to educate some of our community members.”

As part of the exhibition, the museum will host a wide variety of programming by partnering with local community groups for talks, tours, lectures and more.

Susan Green, Philbrook curator, said she and her coworkers spent the last two years working on developing the exhibit that features pieces from Newark Museum’s collection.

“In Wondrous Worlds, we glimpse artistry from places as diverse as Morocco, Turkey, India, China, Burkina Faso and the United States locations tied together by Islamic faith,” says Green. “The mastery and exquisite craftsmanship of the objects draws us in, and through these objects we can discover stories of faith, use and culture that can help us understand our world today.”

On August 16, the museum will host the Wondrous Worlds Festival, which will include demonstrations from artists and musicians, including Houston artist Shaheem Rahman, a Pakistani-born American who practices Ebru, which is the ancient Turkish art of paper-marbling. The cost is $5 for members and $15 for non-members.

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