BERLIN.- The National Museums in Berlin and the sponsor of the arts Yousef Jameel recently signed an agreement to finance the digitisation, cataloguing and online presentation of large parts of the collections of the Museum of Islamic Art.
Thanks to the generous support of Yousef Jameel, the Museum of Islamic Art can now finance six temporary positions for the duration of the five-year project, as well as additional activities necessary for the undertaking. The goal of the project is to digitise 11,000 Islamic objects of art and cultural artefacts from the museum's collections and make them accessible to a global audience on the planned Islamic Art Online portal. Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, explains: "This project is an essential part of the Foundation's plans for the future, which include the digitisation of large parts of the collections of its museums, libraries and archives in the coming years in order to make them accessible to people around the world. The generous support from a private donor is an exemplary contribution to this endeavour." In a separate statement Yousef Jameel added: "Knowledge should be accessible to everyone, at all times and in all places. Islamic Art Online is an essential step toward achieving this goal."
The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford is coordinating the project. In 2007 the museum digitised its collections and made them available on the Eastern Art Online portal, thus amassing a wealth of experience in complex digitisation projects. Eastern Art Online is also supported by Yousef Jameel, and plans are under way to expand the platform by including the collections of additional, internationally renowned museums of Islamic art and culture under the name Islamic Art Online. The Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin will be the first museum to join the portal, and contributions from additional sources are planned. The digitised works from the Museum of Islamic Art will also be made accessible through the foundation's database, SPK Digital, as well as at the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.
The Museum of Islamic Art currently shows only about 430 objects from its extensive collections of Islamic art and culture ranging from the 8th to the 19th centuries in its permanent exhibition in the south wing of the Pergamon Museum, including such famous objects as the Mshatta facade and the Aleppo room. These are joined by 60 objects from Edmund de Unger's internationally renowned Keir Collection of Islamic art, which are on loan to the Museum of Islamic Art. Only after renovations to the Pergamon Museum begin and the Museum of Islamic Art relocates to the north wing of the Pergamon Museum in 2013 will a larger part of the museum's collections be made accessible to visitors.
Yousef Jameel is a Fellow of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. He leads a group of enterprises and is also active as a private sponsor of education, research and the arts. Since 2004, he has sponsored over 300 students and postgraduates, in addition to several cultural projects.