Museums and the Material World

The underlying theme of this book is the excitement, and challenge, of creating and transforming collections. The Gulf States are in the middle of “the most explosive per capita museum building boom in history”. And this exponential growth is fuelled by many new methods of amassing, preserving or recording the collections which fill them: public or private, archaeological, historical or artistic.

In thirteen detailed case-studies and 540 pages, Museums and the Material World provides a unique insight into the pioneering policies and practices of collection building in the region - which in so many ways mirror and support nation-building and the formation of national identity. This book is a companion volume to Reimagining Museums: Practice in the Arabian Peninsula.

Editor Pamela Erskine-Loftus comments: “Social, cultural and traditional practice shapes collecting in the Peninsula. But wherever we are, and whatever we collect, we can all learn from the narratives collected here, which examine globally relevant themes: nation, identity and object; the relevance of the character of the collector, and their view of collecting; the intangible aspect of tangible objects; and ongoing changes in the management of collections.”

Also available: Reimagining Museums: Practice in the Arabian Peninsula.

Pamela Erskine-Loftus, Museum Director, Northwestern University in Qatar.

Archaeological Collecting in Saudi Arabia
Virginia Cassola, Ecole du Louvre & University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France

Collecting the Collection: Changing Qataris’ Attitudes and Practices
Mariam Ibrahim Al-Mulla, Assistant Professor of History, Qatar University

Preserving Heritage: Costume Collections in the Gulf
Alex Aubry, Curator, Chicago, USA

“To learn from past experiences”: Collecting the UAE National Archives
Abdulla M. El Reyes, Director General, The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates

One Long Adventure: Collecting Scottish-Yemeni History
Friederike Voigt and Victoria Adams, Curators, National Museums Scotland

Lost in Translation?: Private Collections in Qatar
Karen Exell, Lecturer in Museum Studies, UCL Qatar

Collecting Islamic Art in Qatar – What’s New?
Aisha Mellah, University of Copenhagen

Al Sadu Collection: Preserving Bedouin Weaving
Patricia Joyce Redding, Beit Al Sadu, Kuwait

Curating a Collection at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Curator; Founding Director Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

Documenting and Collecting Textiles in Saudi Arabia
Konstantinos Chatziantoniou, Head of Collections & Conservation, King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Saudi Arabia

Collective Opportunities: Collections Management in Qatar
David Taylor, Qatar Museums Authority; Laura Phillips, The Wolfsonian-Florida International University, USA; Nisreen Al Malek, Msheireb Museums, Qatar; and Noora Alathbah, Qatar Museums Authority

Coveting the Wearable: Collecting Vintage Couture in the Gulf
Alex Aubry, Curator, Chicago, USA

Connecting Heritage Collections to a Future-Oriented Emirati Culture
Sahar Mohammed Sharif, Community Programs Analyst, The Boeing Company, Seattle

Appendix: Names and Nomenclature 

Pamela Erskine-Loftus is Museum Director with Northwestern University in Qatar. She has held senior positions in the USA (manager of the Department of Education, MoMA, New York), United Arab Emirates (Sharjah Museums Department), and Qatar (Curator with Qatar Museums Authority). Pamela holds a doctorate in Arabian Peninsula museology, and a Masters in Museum Studies with a dissertation on the effects of the 1991 Gulf War on art museums in Kuwait and Iraq, and has written and presented internationally on aspects of Peninsula museology. 

The essays and case studies in this groundbreaking volume are intellectually-rigorous and provocative. They probe the underlying social, cultural, economic and political contexts that influence how material culture is valued and collected in the Arabian Peninsula. The book elucidates ideas about objects, nationhood and identity in the region and introduces practices of value to museum practitioners around the world. The book is an important contribution to the field and I recommend it highly.
Marjorie Schwarzer, Co-Director, Graduate Program in Museum Studies, University of San Francisco.

Title: Museums and the Material World: Collecting the Arabian Peninsula
Editor: Pamela Erskine-Loftus
Pages: 540
Colour illustrations: 35  
Size: 203 x 127 mm
Date: 2014
Editions: £59 [paperback] | £45 [eBook] 
ISBN: 978-1-910144-16-9 [paperback]

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