Emphasis on Islamic Culture of Morocco, Spain, North Africa, and Western Mediterranean Honors Memory of Longtime Supporter
Patti Cadby Birch
(New York—May 4, 2011)—Two new galleries at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and related education programs—all focusing on the art and culture of Morocco, Spain, North Africa, and the Western Mediterranean during the eighth through 19th century—have been funded by The Patti and Everett B. Birch Foundation in memory of Patti Cadby Birch, it was announced today. A sumptuously ornamented courtyard based on late Islamic medieval design and constructed using traditional materials and techniques by workers from Fez, Morocco, will be called the Patti Cadby Birch Court; an adjoining gallery of artwork from Islamic Spain, North Africa, and the Western Mediterranean will be the Patti Cadby Birch Gallery. Both rooms are part of the suite of 15 new galleries for the art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, opening November 1.
Education programming related to the galleries will be supported by the Patti Cadby Birch Education Fund. In addition, the Museum will produce two publications—a book on the art and architecture of the Western Islamic world with contributions by renowned scholars and a Museum Bulletin on the conception and construction of the Moroccan Court—both dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Birch, who died in 2007.
Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, stated: "Patti Birch had a long and close affiliation with the Museum's Department of Islamic Art. She was involved in the early planning for the new galleries and was one of their initial supporters through her gift to fund the Introductory Gallery. It is fitting that her name will now be linked to several of these new areas and projects, including the galleries related to her beloved Morocco. She had a long-standing affection for this institution and especially the Islamic Art Department, and we are so pleased that her generosity will continue to be felt and appreciated not only by those of us here who knew her, but also by future generations of visitors to the Museum."
Vartan Gregorian, President of The Patti and Everett B. Birch Foundation, commented: "On behalf of the Foundation's trustees, we are tremendously honored to support this important project, which will no doubt be a milestone in the Museum's history. This gift is a wonderful tribute to Patti's passionate interest in the arts and culture of Morocco and her devotion to the Metropolitan."
The late Patti Cadby Birch—a longtime Honorary Trustee and a generous supporter of the Metropolitan Museum and its Department of Islamic Art—traveled extensively in Morocco, maintaining a home in Marrakesh. She was Chairman of the Museum's Friends of Islamic Art since its founding in 1994 and a member of the Department of Islamic Art's Visiting Committee. In 1996, she supported a major conservation project of the 12th-century minbar, or pulpit, from the Kutubiyya mosque in Marrakesh, as well as an accompanying volume published by the Metropolitan Museum that documented the minbar's history and preservation. In 1997, she established the Islamic Art Department's Patti Cadby Birch Curatorship. (The position was held by Daniel Walker, followed by Michael Barry. Sheila Canby is the department's current Patti Cadby Birch Curator in Charge.) In addition, Mrs. Birch was a member of the Chairman's Council; Friends of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; Friends of European Paintings; Friends of Modern Art; and the Philodoroi. Mrs. Birch was elected a Benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum in 1998.
# # #
May 4, 2011