Presenting “Islamic” Art in contempory context (2011)

International Conference, Amsterdam.

Design by: Reza Abedini

What makes “Islamic” art Islamic?
What are the conceptual aspirations of “Islamic” art?
Is “Islamic” art transcultural, or is it culturally restricted?

These were just some of the many questions that have been addressed by the conference Presenting “Islamic” Art in Contemporary Context, that took place in Amsterdam on 5 April 2011. This international gathering has brought together museum curators, art historians and cultural strategists assessing the relevance of “Islamic” art to a contemporary audience.

The goal of the conference was to define the most meaningful ways for museums and galleries to present art of Islamic cultures to a contemporary audience.

The conference was highly topical and came at a time when several major museums are re-evaluating their “Islamic” art collections. While its scope was international, special attention was given to the Dutch context, in which “Islamic” art seems to have been largely absent from public view. The conference has taken advantage of what is relatively unexplored territory in the Netherlands, suggesting a fresh approach or a guideline to the study and presentation of “Islamic” art, based on international expertise and experience.

There were keynote speeches by Claus Peter Haase, Sheila R. Canby, Nada Shabout and Charlotte Huygens. The conference was moderated by Venu Dhupa and a debate by Ulrike Al-Khamis, Venetia Porter, Mariam Rosser-Owen, Maymanah Farhat, William Wells, Doris Behrens-Abouseif, Almut Sh. Bruckstein and B.E. Arodaky discussed every aspect of the subject.

The international conference Presenting “Islamic” Art in Contemporary Context is an initiative of Messis Foundation (

Time: 9h00 – 18h00
Venue: Oude Lutherse Kerk Amsterdam, Singel 411
Language: English

The conference report is also available in book form.


Mondriaan Foundation
Fonds BKVB / The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture
Kosmopolis Rotterdam
British Council
Van den Berch van Heemstede Stichting
Embassy of the United States of America
NISIS Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies
Maison Descartes
Groninger Museum
De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam
Universiteit van Amsterdam