The BYU Museum of Art (MOA) currently holds some of the greatest Islamic treasures in the world, and both students and community members have one more month to catch a glimpse.
“Beauty and Belief: Crossing bridges with the arts of Islamic culture,” consists of more than 250 beautiful artifacts that illustrate Islamic art and belief from the 7th century onward. The traveling exhibit opened at BYU in February and will close on Sept. 29 to begin its journey across the country.
Ann Lambson, MOA head educator and project coordinator, said one purpose of the exhibition is to provide a more accurate understanding of Islamic culture through the beauty and belief found all throughout its art.
“Because media and other sources have often left us with a number of preconceived ideas of what Islam is, who Muslims are and what art is, we hope our visitors go through Beauty and Belief and learn about the Islamic culture in a more accurate and positive way,” Lambson said.
The exhibit is particularly relevant to a BYU and primarily LDS community. Sabhia Al Khemir, a Muslim woman and Islamic art scholar based in New York City, chose to open this exhibit at BYU because of the university’s faith-centered environment. Khemir wanted a place with people who had faith deeply embedded in their conversation and lifestyle.
Ty Blacker, a BYU-Idaho biology student visiting for the week, expressed his own opinion of the importance of this exhibit in an LDS-predominant community:
“I think too many people are in their own bubbles,” Blacker said. “(This exhibit) is a way for people to open their eyes and realize there is more to the world than Provo, Utah.”
Another important aspect of the exhibit is the increased understanding people gain about their own beliefs through their experience.
Shelby Daniel, a graphic design major from Soda Springs, Idaho, had this type of experience when she went through the exhibit for an art class assignment.
“Near the end there is a statue of a griffin, which [Muslims] think of as a guardian,” Daniel said. “They believe he is always protecting and watching over them. It made me think about how Heavenly Father is always watching over me.”
“Beauty and Belief” is an exhibit for people from all backgrounds and interests.
“You don’t need to be an art person,” Lambson said. “You don’t need to be studying Middle Eastern studies. This is an exhibition for everybody. You will come away with a new way of looking at and understanding the world.”
In the final month of the exhibition, the MOA is providing additional learning opportunities for students and community members. A guest lecture by Islamic studies professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr will be held Thursday, Sept. 6th at 7 p.m. in the MOA auditorium.
The MOA will also co-host a panel with the Department of Visual Arts on the connections between Mormons and Muslims in art and faith on Thursday, Sept. 2oth at 7 p.m. in the MOA auditorium.