SHAFAQNA – With extremism an issue both in the Middle East and for police forces in the UK, a major museum exhibition in Aylesbury is opening today, with a hope of showcasing the cultural and artistic side of Islam.
Organizers claimed it is the largest display of Islamic art ever seen in public in the county or anywhere in the South East outside the great museums.
Treasures on display include carpets, paintings, furniture, metalwork, jewellery and calligraphy from across Asia as well as one of the largest collections of the Qur’ans in the country.
Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust is organizing the Art of Islam Festival, which runs from today until September 24.
It will be centred at the Bucks County Museum in Aylesbury, but more than 100 associated events are planned across the county in collaboration with mosques, libraries and arts venues.
Events are proposed in Chesham, Aylesbury and High Wycombe and Milton Keynes, and include opportunities for visitors to experience Islamic literature, poetry, ceramics, painting, music, calligraphy and textiles.
The exhibition has been boosted by a grant of £49.950 from the Arts Council which will help fund events around the county.
The exhibits will be borrowed from the British Museum, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, the Horniman Museum in London and from a major private collection owned by renowned UK collector and philanthropist Razwan Baig.
Richard de Peyer, Director of the Buckinghamshire County Museum Trust, said: “At a time like this when there’s such stress internationally between Islam and the Western World, such awful issues around terrorism and extremism, we felt we have a social duty as well as a museum duty.
“In the museum’s collection we have virtually nothing to represent the Muslim world and yet if you look around Buckinghamshire maybe 8 to 10 percent of the whole population is Muslim.
“We are hugely excited by this exhibition. It’s one of the biggest and most ambitious we have organized and the exhibits are simply stunning.
Details of the other festival events have not yet been fully announced but include schools activities in drama and graphic art, arts award workshops for geometric design, talks, garden events and entertainments with an Islamic theme.