International Journal of Islamic Architecture (IJIA)
Special Issue on Installing Islamic Art: Interior Space and Temporal
Thematic volume planned for Summer 2018
Proposal submission deadline: 31 January 2017
With the establishment of new cultural institutions in the Middle East
and Africa, major Islamic art collections have relocated across the
globe during the past decade. A number of Euro-American museums, too,
have embarked on remodelling their decades-old gallery configurations
for presenting material remains from the Muslim-majority societies of
the Arab lands, Iran, Turkey and South Asia and have continuously
sought compromised, if not ideal, display modes. On the other hand,
such efforts have revitalised the following contentious debates
concerning the display genre of “Islamic art”: to what extent
fragmental archaeological finds, restored objects and detached
manuscript painting pages can be installed as the unified image of
Muslim civilisation within a self-contained space; how such
decontextualised objects might speak for themselves; and how they
reflect current politics of representation in the midst of global
The installation of Islamic art has gone through a series of vigorous
changes over the centuries. As a display genre, nineteenth-century
Orientalist fantasies articulated at world’s fairs served to define
static, timeless images of the “Orient” for popular consumption and
formed the basis of exhibitory concepts in which the world of Islam
ought to be represented in the Euro-American museums during the first
half of the twentieth century. In recent years, however, a number of
cultural institutions worldwide, particularly those with the adjective
“Islamic” in their names, began to be involved in a growing
sociological and historical debate as to the function and meaning of
the display of Islamic art. It has been increasingly argued that both
public and private museums should be designed to offer opportunities
for wide public engagement for a better understanding of Muslim
What remains to be considered within these larger debates, however, is
the design of Islamic art installations itself?the interior space as a
three-dimensional, mixed-media construction or as an architecturally
unified space (different from the display of separate sculpture or
other individual art works). While these topics have been well explored
in other fields, the display of Islamic art installation as a form of
visual and spatial expression on its own terms remains largely
understudied. A number of potential topics surrounding Islamic art
galleries and their exhibitions can be proposed, such as the
interactivity of its space, as well as its commitments to the needs of
non-specialist visitors, and the question of self-expression on the
part of curators and exhibition designers.
This special issue invites papers that explore the history, culture and
politics of the interior space in the field of Islamic art and
architecture from the eighteenth century to the present, as well as to
those that extend discussion into the future. Preference is given to
topics dealing with global trends, covering a wide area of the Middle
East, Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, but new approaches
to the installation of Islamic art in well-established Euro-American
museums would be welcome as well.
Themes may include, but are not limited to, the following:
1) The relationship between internal space and the permanent
galleries that this space holds—how does the container itself shapes
what “Islamic art” means to the viewer?
2) What are the representational politics at stake in preparing
temporary exhibitions (within standing museum buildings or mobile
architectural environments such as biennales) dedicated to the
presentation of Muslim cultures and societies—relationships between
objects, their textual commentary, spatial layout and design, as well
as modes of display?
3) What are some of the dominant theoretical or methodological
debates (e.g., modernity vs. revivalism, secularisation vs.
spiritualisation, neo-Orientalism vs. neo-Occidentalism) that have
animated discussions concerning galleries and their display in general,
and specifically in relationship to “Islamic art”?
4) How can “Muslim civilisational” agendas be represented in the
contexts of ethnographical, archaeological or fine art museums?
5) What kind of organisational layout was in the past popular or is
currently dominant in the display mode of Islamic art (chronologically,
geographically, thematically or according to types of objects—e.g.
ceramics, metalwork, textiles, manuscript painting), and what were/are
the advantages or disadvantages of each layout?
6) What are the roles of architectural models, reconstructions or
replicas in museum installations, and how are they integrated into the
image-making of Islamic art and architecture in exhibitory contexts?
7) What are the voices of curators and exhibition designers, and how
are they reflected (or suppressed) in the design of Islamic art
8) What are possibilities for the display of Islamic art without
objects through digital interfaces and remote connection?
9) How can and should the display genre of “Islamic art” evolve in
the future as increasing pressure is placed on the need to represent
the religion to a global public?
10) What are new trends in museum architecture, with special
reference to its gallery space or/and the relationship between the
exterior and the interior, and in particular those spectacular
buildings that are designed by leading architects and interior
designers, and their ability (or limits) to convey messages about the
nature of Islamic art and/or Muslim civilisation?
Essays that focus on historical and theoretical analysis (DiT papers)
should have a minimum of 5,000 words but not more than 8,000 words, and
essays on design (DiP papers in the context of this special issue would
ideally come from participants in curating museum spaces or developing
theoretical models for assessing the impact of museum space/design and
layout on visitors) can range from 3,000 to 4,000 words.
Contributions from scholars of Islamic art and architectural history,
scholars of museum studies, anthropology, ethnography, archaeology,
sociology and political theory in the broadest sense, as well as
critics of exhibition history and design are welcome. Contributions
from practitioners who have experienced with the designing of art
exhibitions and galleries (with Islamic or non-Islamic themes) or who
wish to propose a new installation scheme are particularly welcome, and
should bear in mind the critical framework of the journal.
Please send a 400-word abstract with the essay title to the guest
editor, Dr Yuka Kadoi (email@example.com), by 31 January
2017. Those whose proposals are accepted will be contacted soon
thereafter and requested to submit full papers to the journal by 30
June 2017. All papers will undergo full peer review.
For author instructions regarding paper guidelines, please consult: