In April, curator of Asian art Shawn Eichman announced that changes were coming to the Islamic art gallery, in a video the museum produced for #MuseumWeek. “The way the gallery is right now is very fixed. There’s not a lot of flexibility or room for change,” said Eichman in the video. “We want to address that so that in the future we can change this gallery and continue to do new and exciting things.”
The future is now. On Aug 30, as part of a collaboration with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and its museum, Shangri La, the Islamic art gallery will close for one month to undergo a makeover. When it reopens Oct. 6, the reinstalled gallery will include a space that will feature works by Artists in Residence at Shangri La.
“The redesign of the Islamic Gallery is an exciting opportunity for us to work with our partner, Shangri La, to highlight the role of Islamic art in shaping world culture, and in particular to provide our community with more access to works by contemporary artists,” says Eichman. “In addition, it will allow us greater flexibility to make regular changes in the gallery, so that we can explore various themes in Islamic art and make more of both the museum’s and Shangri La’s collections available to the public through temporary displays.”
“Shangri La and the Honolulu Museum of Art enjoy a wonderful and historic partnership,” says Shangri La executive director Konrad Ng. “The Islamic art gallery showcases 77 essential objects from Shangri La’s rich collection, and when paired with the superb collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art, we are able to tell a fantastic story about human creativity that crosses borders and cultures. The reinstallation enables both museums to deepen the public’s understanding of the global culture of Islamic art and design.”
The gallery will reopen with works by Ayad Alkadhi, Walid Raad and Mohamed Zakaria—all artists whose work was in the 2015 exhibition Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art. Also in the contemporary mix will be the painting Memory for Forgetfulness by Honolulu-based Lebanese artist Reem Bassous. The museum acquired the painting when it was in the solo exhibition Beyond the Archive: Paintings by Reem Bassous, which closed in March.
In spring 2017 the gallery will feature works by Pakistani textile artist Noorjehan Bilgrami, as part of her as yet untitled exhibition that will open in the Textile Gallery on May 18.
Edit: A previous version of this article stated that the closure of the gallery would begin on September 6. The closure began August 30.