Monday, July 9, 2007
Secret splendours of the Archive
The detail above is from a Yemeni wedding dress in the Archive's traveling exhibition "Secret Splendours: women's costume in the Arab world". Let's see if we can find a nice installation photo of the exhibition as well, to finish our post.
The website is still offline and we are receiving no mail so today we are doing internal museum things. Like finishing up cleaning up, LOL, but also working on storing collection items from other areas of the Arab and Islamic world. We have quite a good collection, but unfortunately after we lost our funding after 9/11 and then one of our traveling exhibitions went missing during a tour of America, our museum's acquisition budget was reassigned to help cover these things. So we are lucky we still receive wonderful costumes and textiles as gifts.
Having such a wide collections means we can curate and tour exhibitions like "Secret Splendours: women's costume in the Arab world", which has a checklist of over 150 items. The exhibition includes both historic and contemporary costumes from North Africa, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and the Gulf, including Yemen and Oman. There is also a contemporary section on Islamic modesty dress, which was added after 9/11 when it became very important to educate Western audiences about hijab.
To further redress this issue the Archive is currently curating an exhibition just about the latter. It's a wonderful project to be working on, for several reasons. Firstly, it's essential to have a good educational tool available for people wanting information on this topic, and secondly the exhibition provides a platform for Muslim women to share their experiences of wearing hijab. Those of us who wear hijab really look forward to having a voice. So we guess we'd better get back to work!
Below is a photo of "Secret Splendours" installed at the Museum of Victoria in 2002. This is the Egyptian section of the exhibition - you can see traditional costumes from Siwa Oasis and the Sinai Desert.