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The Grandeur of Islamic Art to be Showcased at Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Feb. 13-May 31


Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services

(718) 997-5597

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
(718) 997-5593



—World’s Foremost Islamic Art Collector to Lecture at Opening Reception—

FLUSHING, NY, February 09, 2007 – “The Grandeur of Islamic Art in Images,” an exhibition of stunning fine art photographs of works from the world-renowned Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, will be on view from February 13 to May 31, 2007 at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College. The collection, which is widely regarded as the world’s most comprehensive collection of Islamic artifacts, was assembled by Iranian-born collector, philanthropist
Calligraphic composition in thulth in the form of a lion
Signed by Ahmad Hilmi
Ottoman Turdey, dated 1913 AD
and Queens College alumnus Nasser David Khalili. The photographs depict examples of exquisite calligraphy, manuscripts, ceramics, glass, textiles, metalwork, and jewelry from all centuries, cultures, and styles of the Islamic world.

Born and raised in Iran, David Khalili was a prodigy who published his first book at the age of 14. He enrolled full time at Queens College in 1970 and earned a degree in computer science in 1974. In Iran Khalili’s family had dealt in art, but his personal interest was in Islamic art and culture. With this background, Khalili developed a deep knowledge and keen eye for both fine and culturally significant objects. A very small cross-section of the 20,000 objects in his astounding collection is represented in the exhibition’s photographic reproductions—giving just a hint of the splendor of both the collection and of Islamic art itself.

Khalili says that all beauty has no boundaries and art unites mankind. A committed believer in the vital importance of understanding between faiths, Khalili is the co-founder and Chairman of the Maimonides Foundation, created to promote greater peace and understanding between Muslims and Jews. “I see Jews and Muslims as cousins, and I consider my activities as a collector of Islamic art a contribution from one member of the human family to another,” he says. “The real weapon of mass destruction is ignorance.” All of Khalili’s cultural and educational endeavors as patron, writer, and lecturer flow from this conviction. He is an Associate Research Professor at the London University School of Oriental and African Studies and has been described by both the former Iranian Foreign Minister and the Iranian Ambassador to London as the “Cultural Ambassador of Islam.” He is planning to create a private museum for his art collections, which include not only Islamic art, but the world-renowned collections of 19th-century Meiji art of Japan, Swedish textiles and Spanish damascene metalwork.

The opening reception on Tuesday, February 13 will feature:

“The Art of the Possible,” a presentation on Islamic art by Professor Nasser D. Khalili.

“Common Chords,” a preview of a May music performance by Salman Ahmad, founder of Junoon, South Asia’s most popular rock band, and musician and composer Yale Strom, a pioneer among Klezmer revivalists.

“Search for Common Ground,” an interfaith dialogue between Rabbi Ami Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan and Sheik Ahmed Dewidar of the Islamic
Society of Mid Manhattan.

“Food for Thought,” remarks on Kosher and Halal dietary traditions, including a sampling of cuisine from the Mediterranean.

Godwin-Ternbach Museum director Amy Winter notes that this exhibition continues the museum’s and Queens College’s focus on the art and culture of Islam, which began with History Prof. Mark Rosenblum’s ongoing project, “The Middle East and America: Clash of Civilizations or Meeting of the Minds.” This project was initiated in 2004 to foster a civil dialogue between the growing numbers of Muslim and Jewish students on campus.

Illuminated title page from a 30-part Mamluk Qur’an. Egypt, probably Cairo, 14th c. AD

“Queens College is an educational gift,” Prof. Rosenblum said. “It is not a Torah academy or a Koranic school where you have segregated populations. This is a community marked by diversity where students have chosen to pursue a world-class education related not only to their own heritage and history, but to that of others as well. It is in this spirit of ‘meeting of minds’ rather than ‘clash of civilizations’ that we’ve organized this exhibition and public programs, which celebrate our mutual achievements and probe our common challenges.”

Upcoming events that will be presented in conjunction with Prof. Rosenblum’s project and this exhibition include:

“The Golden Age in Muslim-Jewish Relations: Idealization or Realization?”—a lecture (March)

“The Science of Healing,” American Jewish and Muslim doctors and researchers discuss their groundbreaking partnership in battling disease (April)

“Common Chords,” a celebration of Muslim and Jewish Music with Salman Ahmad and Yale Strom (May)

Prof. Rosenblum and his class will present other programs. Please call the Godwin-Ternbach Museum at 718-997-4747 or the Harrington Center at 718-997-3070 for schedules of public programs.

“The Grandeur of Islamic Art in Images” is organized by the Godwin-Ternbach Museum with the college’s Michael Harrington Center for Democratic Values and Social Change, in association with the Taft Institute for Government.

The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is the only comprehensive collection of art and artifacts in the borough of Queens, housing over 3,500 objects that date from ancient to modern times. The GTM is a cultural and educational resource for students and local residents. Its mission has grown over time from a teaching museum for the benefit of art and art history students to embrace all disciplines and an increasingly diverse and engaged community. The GTM also serves the residents in neighboring areas of Long Island and metropolitan New York. All exhibitions and programs are free and offer an array of lectures, symposia, gallery talks, workshops, films, concerts, and tours, collaborating with academic departments and Queens College centers and programs.

Located in Klapper Hall on the Flushing campus (65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing, Queens, Exit 24, LIE), the Godwin-Ternbach Museum is open Monday to Thursday from 11 am – 7 pm and, for this exhibition, on Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm. For more information, call
718-997-4747 or 718-997-4724 and visit

While on campus, visitors to “The Grandeur of Islamic Art in Images” may also want to view the latest show at the Queens College Art Center, “Between: Woven Images by Betty Vera,” through March 30. Vera goes beyond traditional tapestry, literally painting with threads. For more information, call 718-997-3770.


 Office Information

Deputy Director of News Services
(Position vacant)

(718) 997- 5597

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services
Queens Hall, Room 270B
(718) 997-5593

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