The Making of a Collection: Islamic Art at the Metropolitan

November 1, 2011–February 5, 2012

Marshall and Marilyn Wolf (b. 1935, b. 1938)

Marshall and Marilyn Wolf, originally from Chicago, came to New York in the late 1970s. This was the second New York residency for Marshall, who had earlier moved to Brooklyn Heights to pursue graduate studies in business and finance. In 1959 he went into the investment business for himself. The Wolfs are fervent travelers and share a passion for collecting, focusing on early Islamic carpets and textiles as well as Turkmen jewelry. Marshall and Marilyn Wolf also are important supporters of the Museum. Since the 1990s, they have sponsored research projects and publications at the Met. Among their gifts are splendid textiles and a carpet, and a collection of nearly three hundred pieces of Turkmen jewelry. They exemplify the continuing generosity of collectors to the Museum and their vital role in maintaining the preeminence of the Met's collections.

Collecting became part of the Wolfs' lives when they were in their late twenties. Marshall relates that when he came to New York as a student he bought his first Oriental carpet to avoid walking barefoot on the cold floor of his apartment, only to learn later that it was not woven in the Near East but machine-made in the United States. Very quickly he became interested in authentic, handmade carpets. Together the Wolfs have been collecting Islamic weavings and embroideries for more than forty years. Today their carpet collection is one of the most important and extensive in private hands. By the 1990s the couple had started collecting Turkmen jewelry. Whenever they decide to acquire or "hunt for" a carpet or Turkmen jewelry, it is its expressive beauty and strength that attracts them first. Regardless of rarity or age, what they find visually pleasing enters in their collection. The Wolfs are familiar figures at major auctions and visit dealers in various countries, particularly Turkey and Central Asia.

Related article: "Featured Publication—Turkmen Jewelry: Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection" (Now at the Met, October 17, 2011)