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Islamic Art

The Met's collection of Islamic art ranges in date from the seventh to the twenty-first century. Its more than 15,000 objects reflect the great diversity and range of the cultural traditions of Islam, with works from as far westward as Spain and Morocco and as far eastward as Central Asia and Indonesia. Comprising both sacred and secular objects, the collection reveals the mutual influence of artistic practices such as calligraphy, and the exchange of motifs such as vegetal ornament (the arabesque) and geometric patterning in both realms.

Archival photo of display cases

Although the Museum acquired some seals and jewelry from Islamic countries as early as 1874, and a number of Turkish textiles in 1879, it received its first major group of Islamic objects in 1891, as a bequest of Edward C. Moore. Since then, the collection has grown through gifts, bequests, and purchases, as well as through Museum-sponsored excavations at Nishapur, Iran, in 1935–39 and in 1947. Until 1932, when the Department of Near Eastern Art was established, all of these objects were overseen by the Department of Decorative Arts. By 1963, the number of objects had increased to a point that necessitated an official departmental division between the ancient Near Eastern and the Islamic portions of the collection, and the Department of Islamic Art was founded.

In 2011, after an extensive renovation, the Museum opened fifteen dramatic new Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. The greatly enlarged and freshly conceived galleries highlight both the diversity and the interconnectedness of the numerous cultures represented, with multiple entryways that allow visitors to approach the galleries—and the art displayed within—from different perspectives.

Read more about the rich history of Islamic art at the Museum.

Collection Highlights

Damascus Room

Explore a residential reception chamber (qaʿa) typical of the late Ottoman period in Damascus, Syria. On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in gallery 461.

Speaking Objects From the World of Islam

This project is intended to give voice to inscriptions on objects and make them accessible to museum audiences, scholars, students, and researchers.

Recent Acquisitions

Take a look at a selection of newly acquired works from the department.

 

On View

Dialogues: Modern Artists and the Ottoman Past

The Met’s Department of Islamic Art celebrates Turkish art and culture. A special installation Dialogues: Modern Artists and the Ottoman Past is on view in the Koç Family galleries 459 and 460 through June 30, 2024.

 

Related Content

Publications

Discover The Met's many publications on Islamic art and architecture. 

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Browse richly illustrated essays on Islamic art and architecture.

Blog Articles

Read fresh perspectives on Islamic art and architecture from curators and others at the Museum.

Videos

Watch videos on Islamic art and architecture at The Met—interviews, lectures, exhibition previews, and more.

 

Research

 

For Families and Teachers

Family Guide: Dazzling Details (PDF)

 

Stay Connected

Newsletters

See the current and past newsletters.

Curatorial Friends Group

The Friends of Islamic Art brings together patrons and collectors in support of the department.

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