After a seven-year hiatus, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s late medieval, Renaissance and Islamic collections have returned to public view. The artwork is showcased in the recently renovated galleries of the first level of the museum’s original 1916 Beaux-Arts building, designed by Hubbell and Benes. Within each historical area, objects are organized thematically and incorporate a variety of media. The installations are presented in integrated displays that foster an understanding of the social and historical contexts within which these works of art were produced.
“These new galleries complete the renovation of our original 1916 building, a significant accomplishment for the project,” said David Franklin, Sarah S. and Alexander M. Cutler director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “We are very excited to share these galleries with our visitors, and give them a chance to see newly acquired objects surrounded by old favorites from these magnificent collections.”
The Islamic collection includes works from 10 countries and spans 1300 years, ranging from antiquity to modern day. Among the highlights of the re-installation include the return of visitor favorites like a complete Prayer Niche (Mihrab) and Inscription Frieze, an interior focal point of a mosque oriented toward Mecca, and The Wade Cup (c. 1200-1225), the best known object in the museum’s Islamic collection, named after Jeptha H. Wade II, who bequeathed funds for its purchase and donated property for the museum site. The Wade Cup is from Iran and is richly decorated with interlacing bands containing tiny figures of humans and animals representing the twelve signs of the zodiac.
The Islamic art gallery also includes newly acquired contemporary work such as the shadow installation, His Lantern (2006) by Afruz Amighi, which depicts the format of a traditional Iranian prayer rug with an allover foliate pattern and a photograph, Harem #14 (2008) that explores the role of women in the contemporary Islamic world by Moroccan artist Lalla Essaydi.