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Saturday, May 11, 2013

 “Carpets, Textiles, and  Islamic Art: New Museum Practice in the 21st Century”

Walter B. Denny,

Prof. of Art History, U. Mass, Amherst

Scholar, Author, Independent Curator, and Senior Consultant

in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 2004, the Islamic galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a repository of numerous important and spectacular oriental carpets and textiles, closed for an eight-year period of re-design and reconstruction.  During that time, Professor Walter Denny, Senior Consultant in the Department of Islamic Art at the Museum, began a weekly commute one day a week from Amherst to New York City, to consult on the design of the remodeled galleries and the decisions about which carpets and textiles to display in each, and how to display them.  His illustrated lecture about the planning and implementation of the new galleries at the Met will concentrate on the dramatically enhanced displays of carpets and textiles, along with the political and administrative interactions in the choices of which pieces to display, especially for the grand re-opening in November, 2011.  Prof. Denny will also discuss the role of textiles and carpets in other new or renovated Islamic art departments and museums, including the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, the Louvre in Paris, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the David Collection in Copenhagen, and the forthcoming Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.

Walter B. Denny is a scholar, author, popular speaker, and professor of Art History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Since 2007 he has served as senior consultant in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  His research interests in Islamic art concentrate largely on the arts of the Ottoman Empire, and on the history of Islamic carpets and textiles. His publications cover the media of architecture, design and painting, carpets, silk textiles, and ceramic tiles and wares. For over forty years he has also taught, pursued research, and published on the thousand-year history of East-West artistic interchange in European art and artistic culture, and has trained generations of graduate students in the areas of art museum theory and practice. He has curated more than a dozen museum exhibitions in his areas of specialty; his exhibition The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art was recently shown at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., chronicling how a short list of stylized plants became the “brand recognition” of the empire and a floral style that continues to impact the textile arts. In 2012 Walter was honored by the Textile Museum with the George Hewitt Myers Award for lifetime achievement in the textile arts.



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