The Islamic Art Project – the beginning of a diary

Posted: 23rd June 2020

Humber Museums Partnership - The Islamic Art Project  – the beginning of a diary

In October 2019 the Islamic Art Project started. It didn’t start with a big fanfare (projects rarely do!), instead it started with a go ahead and a brief to develop a project working with the Islamic Art collection at Hull and East Riding Museum.

Even getting to the stage of being able to develop a project involves a lot of backstory (and work). So I’ll take you further back, to 2016 when the Curator of Archaeology (Paula Gentil) and Assistant Curator (Gabrielle Heffernan) applied to the Islamic Art and Material Culture Subject Specialist Network for specialist support, offered through Arts Council England funding.

The application was successful and in 2017, Dr Melanie Gibson from the Courtauld Institute of Art came to the museum for a couple of days to take an in depth look at the ceramics and glassware in our Islamic Art collection. She studied each object: taking photographs, taking measurements and making initial notes. Then using this information and her expert research, she provided us with an in-depth report about each object. The Islamic Art Subject Specialist network also provided us with further support, providing us with mounts and materials to display the objects as well as replicas so there was scope to engage people with the collection in the future. They also provided us with a Community Engagement report, providing us with advice and ideas for engaging people with the collection.

This research work and additional support meant that we had better knowledge and understanding of the collection as well as the ability to display parts of the collection in our temporary display case. Without this, we simply wouldn’t have been in a position to meaningfully engage people with the objects as we did not know enough about them.

Fast forward to 2019. Throughout 2018 and 2019, the Humber Museums Partnership have been providing staff with professional development opportunities. There’s been training in frameworks (e.g the Quality Principles [link to]), exploring Arts Council England’s Creative Case for Diversity [link] and project management training. It was the perfect time to explore the Islamic Art Collection and to engage people with this wonderful collection.

“So what happened next!” I can hear you cry… I’ll let you know in the next post about the Islamic Art Project.