When the Dallas Museum of Art secured the loan of one of the world’s most significant private collections of Islamic art two years ago, few predicted the resonance it would have today. As the US prepares to inaugurate a president who once proposed banning Muslims from entering the country, the museum is reaffirming its commitment to Islamic art. It is preparing a dedicated gallery on its ground floor for the Keir Collection—2,000 works assembled by the late Hungarian lawyer and collector Edmund de Unger.
“It’s putting Islamic art in a prime location—you can’t miss it,” says Sabiha Al Khemir, the museum’s senior adviser for Islamic art. The 2,200 sq. ft space, which is due to open on 16 April, will present a rotating display of more than 100 works spanning 13 centuries. The stars of the collection, including the lavishly illustrated Mughal manuscript Khamsa of Nizami (around 1585-90), will be shown alongside never-before-seen carpets, pottery and textiles.
During the 15-year loan from de Unger’s family, the museum’s curators also plan to create a digital archive of the trove. The gallery will show the largest presentation of the collection to date, following smaller displays at the Dallas museum earlier this year and at the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin from 2009 to 2012.