Dealing with Rose and Romance: Challenges in the Exhibition of Islamic Objects in Ethnological Museums

The GRASSI Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig1 (MVL) has collected around 200,000 objects, of which over 3,500 originated from West Asia and North Africa. The pieces were bought, donated, or bequeathed, and some were added to the museum during the colonial period. By acquiring and receiving donations...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Handling Religious Things. The Material and the Social in Museums (Band 11)
Main Author: Eskandaripour, Pardis
Format: Book Chapter
Language:English
Published: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2022
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Summary:The GRASSI Museum of Ethnology in Leipzig1 (MVL) has collected around 200,000 objects, of which over 3,500 originated from West Asia and North Africa. The pieces were bought, donated, or bequeathed, and some were added to the museum during the colonial period. By acquiring and receiving donations from private collections, and purchasing objects from world exhibitions – such as those held in Vienna in 1873, and Paris in 1897 and 1900 – the MVL has brought together a wide array of objects from many countries. The MVL does not focus on a particular region or religion. Indeed, the museum’s diversity of focus stands in noticeable contrast to other specifically themed museums. The West Asian objects in the permanent exhibition are not displayed under this regional-geographical classification, as in other sections of the museum, but rather in a section titled ‘Orient’. My paper highlights the challenges and problems of presenting objects and materials from the various cultures displayed in the so-called Orient Department of the permanent exhibition of the MVL. Discussing the current restriction of Islamic items to forming only part of the generalising ‘Orient’ section, this paper notes a possible alternative of a presentation in either a special exhibition or a larger section of the permanent exhibition. This would be in line with the MVL’s treatment of Buddhism and Hinduism in the Asian section. I will address the curators’ task of exhibiting specific religions in the museum, as well as how visitors interact with those specific religions.
Physical Description:16 Pages
DOI:https://doi.org/10.17192/es2022.0091