Under the patronage of HH The Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, an exclusive exhibition – Travelling Through Arts and Times – went on show publicly for the first time on 13 March 2014 with more than 160 rare artefacts from Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s private collection including a set of gold Qatari jewelry, a unique 7 m wooden model pearl fishing boat and four vintage cars.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the world-renowned Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s Museum and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar to mark the 10th anniversary of its campus in Education City. ‘Travelling Through Arts and Times’, on display at the university until 27 March 2014, showcases the richness of Qatari and Islamic culture, heritage and civilisation and is laid out in three sections, focusing on rare Islamic manuscripts, Islamic art and Qatari heritage.
HE Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari and HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani opened the exhibition in the presence of HE Sheikh Mohammad bin Faisal Al Thani; senior members of the military, ambassadors and diplomatic representatives, CMU Associate Dean Patrick Sileo, CMU Assistant Dean of Government Initiatives and Corporate Affairs Fadhel Annan; and leaders of business and academia.
Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani said:
This exhibition from my private collection offers an exclusive opportunity to view rare and culturally significant artefacts that reflect the richness of Qatari and Islamic culture, history and heritage throughout the ages. Many of these items – such as the gold jewelry, vintage cars and Islamic coins – are on public display for the first time.’
‘The artefacts we have chosen to display express my fascination with the past and our heritage and how historical struggles and accomplishments have shaped our current culture and identity. The exhibition echoes the theme of Evolution into the future: A Journey from the past, for Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s 10th anniversary celebrations. I would like to congratulate Dean Ilker Baybars on a very successful decade in Qatar, which has seen the university grow from 41 to 400 students, and wish him and everyone at Carnegie Mellon the very best wishes for continued success in the years to come.’
The ‘Aspects of Qatari heritage’ exhibit reflects Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum’s aspirations to be a leading institution for collecting and preserving the cultural heritage of Qatar. The highlight of this collection is an ornate set of solid gold jewelry from the 1920s, which was locally made and belonged to a Qatari noble woman. The set of a necklace, belt, earrings and bracelets is part of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s private collection and on public display for the first time.
Also on display is a unique, 7m long wooden model of a Jalbut – the most common type of pearl fishing vessel in Qatari waters. This model was commissioned by a Sheikha and at half-real size, is one of its kind.
Dean Ilker Baybars of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, said:
It is a great honour to host such a remarkable exhibition from Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s private collection in celebration of our 10th anniversary in Qatar. These precious Qatari heritage exhibits, centuries-old manuscripts and rare Islamic art pieces augment our anniversary as we pay tribute to Qatar’s past history and future development. We are delighted that such admirable artefacts can be viewed not only by our students and international visitors, but by all Qatar residents.’
The ‘Islamic Art Collection’ features 64 objects of ceramic and metal, carpets and rare Islamic coins, all dating from the very early Islamic period of 7th Century through to the early 20th Century and which have never before been publicly displayed. A mid-7th Century golden Dinar coin with three standing imperial figures, representing the Byzantine emperor Heraclius and his two sons Heraclius Constantine and Heraklonas, is one of the highlights of this collection. Evident in the artwork is the high level of creativity and competence of the Islamic artists, whose craftsmanship displays sophisticated techniques and elaborate styles.
The collection of manuscripts, under the theme ‘Manuscripts: Reflecting the Past, illuminating the Future’, features items from across the Arab and Islamic world. In addition to religious manuscripts, the collection also display manuscripts reflecting science, philosophy and spiritual matters. Of note is a complete 18th Century Sufi work by Al-Asharani entitled Albaher almawroud, which is extremely advanced for its time in terms of the paper used and features elegant calligraphy.
Visitors to the exhibition can also view for the first time four vintage cars from Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani’s private collection. Four vintage cars are on show in front of the entrance to Carnegie Mellon University’s main building for the duration of the exhibition – a 1939 Studebaker Champion; a 1939 Ford, a 1947 Cadillac convertible and a Ford Crown Victoria, 1955-56.