TREASURES OF THE WORLD’s CULTURES EXHIBITION AT ABU DHABI -18 April to 17 July 2012.
A few days back I had an opportunity to visit the exhibition of TREASURES OF THE WORLD’S CULTURES held at Abu Dhabi UAE. The following is a brief description of the treasures of the past worthy of a glimpse by the present generation. The exhibition is in collaboration with British Museum, bringing life to the elements of human history dating back 2 million years, and addresses some universal themes, such as leadership, heritage and faith. In his lecture, Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum explored the highlights of the exhibition and revealed some of the extraordinary stories they evoke. With a special introduction by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
Educators at all levels, K-12 to university were invited to preview the exhibition and learn about the ways to share the exhibition with their students. Both the afternoon and evening programs are the same, and begin with a preview tour through the exhibition and conclude with a teacher resource guide take-away. Enjoy a cup of tea, an artful snack, a tour of the Treasures of the World’s Cultures exhibition, and an opportunity to make a work of art inspired by the artifacts one has just seen.
Treasures of the World’s Cultures comprises objects loaned from the British Museum and placed in dialogue with artifacts from the Al Ain National Museum, the Sharjah Archaeology Museum and the private collection of His Excellency Abdulraheem Al Sayed Al Hashemi and leads us to the broad horizon of world heritage through over 250 exceptional objects, providing a universal context for the UAE and the Middle East. The exhibition places us in a unique position, to be able to look back on the threads of existence and watch the tapestry of world heritage be brought to life by each precious object. The Zayed National Museum Abu Dhabi confirms us to lead us to the wisdom and knowledge through objects such as those in ‘Treasures of the World’s Cultures’, that will inspire and equip us on our journey in to the future.
The exhibition comprises over 250 magnificent objects loaned from the British Museum and placed in dialogue with artifacts from the Al-Ain National Museum, the Sharjah Archaelogy Museum and the private collection of His Excellency Abdulraheem Al Sayed Al Hashemi. Drawn from across the world and from all ages, these artworks are antiquities objectively from an overview of 2 million years of human culture and history.
01) Standing Buddha –Takht-i-Bahi, Gandhara, Pakistan.
100-200 CE, Grey schist, Height 92 cm.
02) Canopic jars of Neshkhons-Deir el-Bahari, Upper Egypt, 21st Dynasty, 1069-945 BCE. Calcite and painted wood, height 42.5 cm.
Teen and Adult Workshop Clay Busts. Sculpted portrait busts are a highlight of the Asia and Europe sections of ‘Treasures of the World’s Cultures’ exhibition. Working with clay teens (13 to 17 years old) will create a three dimensional bust based upon a historical artifact.
03) Memorial portrait bust of a priest – Palmyra, Syria about 150-200 CE.-Limestone-Height: 55.8 cm. Width 48.3 cm.
Given the central role of religion and faith in human history it is unsurprising that so much creative effort should, over millennia, have gone into the production of objects and images intended to embody spiritual belief. In this lecture Dr. Jonathan Williams explored some of the diverse traditions of sacred art from around the world. Focusing on a selection of the many magnificent artifacts included in the exhibition. The talk illustrated some of the varied ways in which religious practice and thought have been commemorated through specially crafted objects across the ages. Artifacts relating to indigenous belief systems and ancient religions as well as the major world faiths were included in the lecture.
The Director General of the Sharjah Museums Department, Manal Ataya offered an over-arching perspective of the various museums in Sharjah with a particular focus on the role of these museums in preserving and fostering knowledge of Arab and Islamic culture and of the history and heritage of the UAE within the context of the wider region. Referencing, in part, some of the objects on loan from Sharjah Museums, Ataya discussed how these institutions examine and express an important story of faith and identity through exhibitions and objects.
04) Two mosque lamps: Egypt, 1350-1355 CE- Glass, free-blown, tooled, applied, enameled and gilded: worked on the pontil, height 36.4 cm, 36 cm-with Quranic inscriptions.
Children’s Workshop: Canopic Jars: Children (5 to 12 years old) will learn about the ancient Egyptian practice of mummification and the use of canopic jars. Children will have the opportunity to make and decorate their own canopic jar.
Children’s Workshop Masks: Masks are an important element of the traditions and ceremonies of many past and present world cultures. Inspired by examples from the exhibition and using a range of art making materials, children (6 to 12 years old) will create a mask of their own design to take home.
Arts cape of World Cultures: It includes live music, dance, workshops, poetry and art, drawing inspiration from the rich themes and objects in the exhibition to celebrate human achievement and cultural expression from around the world.
Teen and Adult Workshop Lino Relief Printing: Printing on paper was invented in China around 700 CE and has been taken up and adapted by cultures across the vworld. Using the example of Picasso’s linoleum print in ‘Treasures of the World Cultures’ and referencing the woodblock prints by Hokusai and Durer, teens (13 to 17 years old) and adults will make their own hand carved linoleum block to print from and take home.
05) Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) Color linocut, height 53 cm, width 64 cm.
Teen Workshop: Optical Art Painting: This workshop is to look at Optical Art, also known as Op Art, a type of art that makes use of optical illusions inspired by the Op Art of the 1960s, teens (13 to 17 years old) will learn how artists use colors, lines and shapes to create optical illusions. Create your own Op Art painting by experimenting with patterns and shapes to create a painting that tricks the eye.
Leadership in human history: For thousands of years exalted rulers and monarchs across the globe have proclaimed their powers and commemorated their achievements through the creation of fabulous works of art. In this lecture Thorsten Opper Curator British Museum examined the enduring relationship between art and leadership through a wide range of objects and images included in the exhibition, from magnificent life-size sculpture to exquisite paintings and medals. The talk was to demonstrate some of the ways in which historical artifacts can encapsulate aspects of country life, the governance of states and international relations across diverse societies, cultures and nations.
Having been involved in the archeological investigations in the UAE since the 1970s and drawing on his expertise and knowledge of the archeological sites in Al-Ain, which were recently classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Dr. Wahid Yasin Manager of Archaeology Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority spoke about the ancient cultures in the UAE and the interaction with other cultures in the region from Mesopotomia to the Indus Valley. Discussing in part some of the objects in the exhibition on loan from Al Ain National Museum, Dr. Wahid examined the nature of these crossings and interactions, dating from the fifth millennium BCE to the first century CE.
06) Bust of the emperor Hadrian- Hadrian’s Villa, Trivoli, Italy-Roman 117-118 CE-Marble height 66 cm.
07) Hammered gold mask with nose ornament- Colombia-Calima, 600-1500 CE Gold height: 17 cm, width : 20 cm.
Adult Workshop: Miniatures: A miniature is a painting where every single element is itself miniaturized and meticulously detailed. Miniatures were made by the Ottomans, Persians and Moghuls and would usually accompany a story or a poem. In this workshop they create an artwork inspired by the traditional miniature paintings of the Middle East and Asia.
08) Rustam striking the doors of Afrasiyab’s palace, from a Shahnama of Dirdawsy- Iran-Around 1600CE- Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper-Height: 22.7 cm. Width 15.4 cm.
Children’s Workshop: Mini Mummies-Children (6to12 years old) will have fun making their own miniature ancient Egyptian inspired sarcophagus. The workshop will examine the art of the ancient Egyptians for inspiration.
Teen Workshop: Portrait: Working in the manner of the great past masters, teens (13 to 17 years old) learn the basic techniques of portrait drawing, studying an ancient Greek marble bust.
09) Ideal head of a woman: Michelangelo (1475-1564)-Florence, Italy-about 1525-8 CE, height 28.7 cm. width 23.5 cm.
As Abu Dhabi develops a live canvas for global culture through the development of the world’s most important cultural institutions, it is essential to remember that the dialogue of civilizations been and gone is the context for the present. Through objects such as those in Treasures of the World’s Cultures, the Zayed National Museum leads us to the wisdom and knowledge that inspires and equips us on our journey to the future.
I wonder whether we in J&K State shall ever be able to hold such a wonderful informative and educative exhibition, when our museums are equipped with rare and rich artifacts, besides we could invite other museums of the country and abroad to participate. This would also boost tourism of the State.
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili ( Retd. Chief Engineer)