Museums have developed new practices towards the display of textiles in response to the increased worldwide popularity of Islamic Art.
Historically, carpets and textiles have been among the most important vehicles for artistic expression in much of the Muslim world.
According to Marika Sardar of New York's Institute of Fine Arts, under the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal dynasties, carpet weaving was transformed from a minor craft based on patterns passed down from generation to generation into a fine art medium with patterns created in court workshops.
In this period, carpets were fabricated in greater quantity than ever before. They were traded to Europe and the Far East where, too precious to be placed on the ground, they were used to cover furniture or hung on walls. Within the Islamic world, especially fine specimens were collected in royal households.
In Western museums, textiles have been treated as artifacts (objets d'art) and not as examples of fine art. This attitude is changing worldwide, thanks to the increased importance of Islamic art, and developments like the Louvre's new Islamic Art wing and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's recently opened Islamic galleries.
These new galleries had to be planned to accommodate the demands of carpets and textiles, fundamentally sifting the design and use of gallery space.
In response to these developments, the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California is hosting a lecture: "Carpets, Textiles and Islamic Art: New Museum Practice in the 21st Century" by Professor Walter B. Denny.
Dr. Denny is Professor of Art History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Senior Consultant in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The lecture will include the planning and implementation of the new galleries at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and will concentrate on the enhanced displays of carpets and textiles. Professor Denny will also discuss the role of textiles and carpets in other new or renovated Islamic art departments and museums, including the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, the Louvre in Paris, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the David Collection in Copenhagen, and the forthcoming Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.