HH Sheikha Moza opens “Pearls” exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art

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HH Sheikha Moza opens “Pearls” exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art

Doha, Qatar, Saturday, January 30, 2010

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser openned "Pearls" exhibition yesterday evening at the Museum of Islamic Art. Doha sparkles as rare pearls go on display. The exhibition offers a unique scientific, historical and cultural journey into the world of pearls.

This is the first of Qatar Museums Authority’s events celebrating Doha as the Capital of Arab Culture 2010. Commenting earlier on the exhibition, HE Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed al-Thani, vice chairman of Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), said: “A year after the establishment of the Museum of Islamic Art, we are proud to be achieving regional and international recognition as a cultural centre of excellence. We expect Pearls to be a resounding success and I would like to invite everyone to come and visit.”

Among those touring the exhibition with Her Highness was Hussein Alfardan, whose company Alfardan Jewellery is presenting partner in the exhibition. Hussein Alfardan is renowned as one of the most prominent pearl collectors in the world, and for the first time some of the finest pearls from the famed Hussein Alfardan collection are on public display as part of the exhibition. Also on view are items from the Al Majed collection, which contains many unique and exquisitely beautiful objects.

The Pearls exhibition is made up of seven sections, exhibiting more than 300 artefacts and art works and covering pearl formation, the importance of pearl diving in the history of the Arabian Gulf region, and the influence of pearls on jewellery and design throughout history. It offers a unique scientific, historical and cultural journey into the world of pearls.

Exhibition highlights include the Indian Baroda carpet made in 1865 for the Maharaja of Baroda, decorated with over a million pearls and precious stones and originally intended as a cover for the tomb of The Prophet at Medina. Acquired last year by the QMA, it will eventually go on permanent display in the National Museum.

Other highlights are a rare collection of black pearls from Tahiti, antique pieces of jewellery from Europe, a robe made for a Chinese emperor and embroidered with brilliantly coloured silk and pearls, and personal jewellery associated with “Coco” Chanel, Marilyn Monroe, Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Mary of Great Britain.

A remarkable series of X-ray photographs of pearl shells by Boo Beaumont illuminates the mysterious process by which layers of nacre form around an object to create a pearl. Also on display is a large painting of a traditional pearling dhow and its crew, by well-known Qatari artist Ali Sherif.

Exhibition manager Dr Hubert Bari, whose team has been working on the exhibition for a year, said: “This is an exhibition full of surprises. We aim to dispel some of the myths surrounding pearls, and to educate as well as to entertain.”

Many of the lenders of objects on display were present at the opening. Kazumi Arikawa, president of the Albion Art Jewellery Institute, Tokyo, whose company lent 24 of the items, said: “It gives me great pleasure to visit Doha and see this magnificent museum housing the exhibition. We are proud to participate.”