Islamic, Middle Eastern Culture Featured In New Cummer Museum Exhibit

May 18, 2017

Fifty four objects are strung together to tell the story of Islamic and Middle Eastern culture in the Cummer Museum of Art and Garden’s new exhibit, “Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.”

The exhibit runs from May 19 to Sept. 3.  And the Cummer is the final tour stop before returning home. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts started collecting pieces for “Ink, Silk, and Gold” more than 130 years ago. Since then, the exhibit has been shared in museums all around the country.

“We actually started talking with (the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) in 2011 about bringing this exhibition here,” said Holly Keris, the Cummer Museum’s chief curator. “So, we are absolutely thrilled that the time has come when our community is going to be able to experience it.”

The exhibit begins in the eighth century and ends in modern times.  The collection features objects from a handful of different countries, including Iran, Syria, Morocco and Spain.

“The exhibition is really arranged chronologically, and within that chronological period you have regions,” Cummer associate curator Nelda Damino said.

Viewers can choose to follow along the timeline at the exhibit or jump around from region to region. Either way, Keris said the objects will all appear somewhat unconnected because of the variety of media on display. Some of the featured pieces are withering, ancient manuscripts, some are elaborately designed ceramic plates and some are colorfully hand-woven rugs.

The 54 objects do have one thing common: their connection to the religion of Islam. According to Damiano, the different textures, colors and shapes of the pieces all provide a window into the Middle Eastern world and it’s customs, religion, and societal contributions.

Keris said “Ink, Silk, and Gold” is the first time the Cummer Museum has presented Islamic art on such a large scale, and she hopes it inspires people to engage more in different cultures and art forms.

“Seeing people get so engaged with these objects and having conversations with the people standing next to them — folks they didn’t know before — and just talking about the art and what they were seeing is so exciting and inspiring to us,” Keris said. “We really hope that trend translates into the summer.”

News intern Tiffany Salameh can be reached at or on Twitter at @tiffanysalameh