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MIA opens ‘A Falcon’s Eye’ expo today as tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani

MIA opens ‘A Falcon’s Eye’ expo today as tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani

Tribune News Network
Doha
The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) will host a special exhibition, ‘A Falcon’s Eye: Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani’, from August 2, 2020 to April10, 2021, featuring extraordinary works of art and artifacts acquired by Sheikh Saoud Al Thani (1966–2014), both as a passionate collector and on behalf of the State of Qatar. Sheikh Saoud served as chairman of the Qatar National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage from 1997 to 2005. His knowledge and interests ranged from wildlife conservation to the history of photography, from Egyptology to modern architecture, and from the exquisite jewellery and jewellery of the Arabian Gulf and Mughal India, to contemporary art.
A Falcon’s Eye features approximately 300 objects, some of which have never been shown to the public before. They range from the prehistoric period of Holocene to the early 2000s and in geography from South America and Europe to the Arabian Gulf and China. These sweeping displays will be presented in distinct, thematic groups reminiscent of the “Cabinets of Curiosities” or the Wunderkammer, which were assembled by individual collectors in the centuries before the first modern museums were established, and which fascinated Sheikh Saoud.
The exhibition will fill the MIA with the first-floor temporary exhibition space, which will be named in honour of Sheik Saoud, and will extend to the fourth-floor galleries and balconies. A small selection of objects will also be included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Islamic Art.
Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, said, “In the years before the Qatar Museums were founded, Sheikh Saoud combined his intense, wide-ranging personal curiosity and passion for collecting with a public-spirited commitment to developing the cultural and educational resources of the State of Qatar. He left an invaluable heritage to his nation through his remarkable achievements. Qatar Museums is pleased to commemorate Sheikh Saoud with this dazzling exhibition.”
Dr Julia Gonnella, director of the MIA, said, “It is deeply satisfying to present A Falcon ‘s Eye in this museum, not only because Sheik Saoud was so instrumental in assembling QM holdings, but because his passion as a collector was so closely linked to his spiritual instinct. He was animated by a sense of wonder in the natural world and an endless variety of human creativity. We hope that the visitors to our exhibition will share this spiritual excitement.”
Principal sections of the exhibition, and some of their highlights, include:
 A Passion for Nature: a complete skeleton of a Glyptodon (a large, heavily armored prehistoric mammal), the skeleton of a Pteranodon, a first edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, volumes of the Thesaurus of the 18th-century Dutch naturalist and collector Albertus Seba, geological specimens including a giant amethyst, photographs by Richard Avedon of Sheikh Saoud and the wildlife at his Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation.
 A Passion for Egyptology: sculptures depicting the Pharaoh Akhenaten and his relativesduring his reign at Tell el Amarna, a sarcophagus and mummy, funerary objects, works by the founder of modern Egyptology Jean-François Champollion, paintings and drawings of Egypt by the 19th-century British artist David Roberts.
 A Passion for Antique Worlds: exceptional works from the pre-Islamic Arabian Peninsula, pre-Columbia South America, and ancient Bactria, Greece, Rome and Assyria, including mosaic, glass, textiles, and sculptures in precious metals and stones
 A Passion for Gold and Jewelry: gold from ancient Assyria and pre-Columbian South America, and gems of Mughal India.
 At the Table of the Collector: rare masterpiece of ceramic from 16th-century France from the legendary collection of the Comtesse de Béhague, Orientalist paintings by artists including Ludwig Deutsch (1855-1935) and Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), modern architectural projects for Doha commissioned by Sheikh Saoud, a watercolor portrait of Sheikh Saoud by David Hockney, 2002
 A Passion for Photography: selections fromone of thelargestcollection of photographs and cameras in the world, ranging from the 1830s to the present, featuring rare historic equipment, vintage prints of masterpieces of photography, and a suite of photographs of Sheikh Saoud by François-Marie Banier.
A Falcon’s Eye: Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thaniis curatedby Dr Hubert Bari (Qatar Museums Curatorial Consultant) and Dr Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya (MIA’s Curator for North Africa and Iberia).

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