The Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin

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SasanianSamarraEarly IslamMetalworkCeramic TilesLater Islam

A division of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Museum of Islamic Art (Museum für Islamische Kunst) is located in the same building that houses the Pergamon Museum. Its rich collection begins prior to the Islamic period in the Middle East (there are some good Sasanian objects) and contains some very famous exhibits, perhaps the best known being the façade of the Umayyad Palace at Mshatta in Jordan. (Images of the Mshatta display will be found on our website by clicking here.) A good many of the objects on display attest to the cultural interaction across Asia whereby Chinese ceramics had an impact on ceramic design in the Middle East. The division of the collection here into several separate pages is somewhat arbitrary and intended primarily to reduce web page size for quicker loading. "Early" material obviously encompasses Samarra; the approximate dividing line between "early" and "later" is the end of the 10th century, with objects straddling the 10th-11th century divide included on the "later" page.

There is a very good pocket-sized overview of the Museum's collection:

State Museums of Berlin Cultural Property. Museum of Islamic Art (Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 2003) (cited here as "Islamic Art" for references to published photographs and descriptions).

I have also included occasional references to depictions and discussion of the museum's objects in the following works:

Photographs here were taken by Daniel Waugh in 2004 and 2008. An effort has been made to adjust the colors for the effect of the artifical lighting, which tends to produce a yellow color cast. In some instances where photos are from both years, there is a noticeable difference between them in this regard. Most images are of good quality. The few that are not have been left in for purposes of reference.

As with the other Berlin state museums, the Museum of Islamic Art to date has only a brief introductory page on its Internet site, although obviously there is the intention of expanding the internet offerings. Those wishing to purchase images of items in the collection may view them (in "watermarked" versions only) on the website of the picture archive for the Berlin Museums. The watermarks do not obscure most details for those wishing to examine on-line objects which are not otherwise available on the internet. Click here for the section of that website for the Museum of Islamic Art.

Updated January 20, 2009.