ANN: Lecture ‘Collecting practices in the Gulf’ by Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya (online / University of Edinburgh Collecting and Art Market Research Cluster, Tues 27 Apr 2021)

Sheikh Saoud bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani (1966-2014) was one of the most prominent art collectors of the last decades. He was very influential in the constitution of collections for Qatar Museums and the state of Qatar in general. His legacy as a collector is of crucial importance to Qatar Museums as he laid the foundations of the major collections within the institution. In connection with the exhibition, ‘A Falcon’s Eye: Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani’, presented at the Museum of Islamic Art Doha (MIA) from August 2020 until April 2021, this talk will present the different aspects of Sheikh Saoud’s collecting practices.

As a passionate individual, he developed interests in the collectors of the past and in ‘cabinets of curiosities’, where natural history and antiquities were presented together. The exhibition at MIA has celebrated his collecting vision through an eclectic display including natural history, antiquities, jewellery, photography and modern and contemporary artworks that recalls the ‘cabinets of curiosities’ tradition. To his vast collections, he added a conservation facility to preserve and breed endangered species at his Al-Wabra Wildlife preservation farm, which gained worldwide admiration.

Dr Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya is Senior Curator at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar. She completed her Ph.D. in Islamic Art History and Archaeology at the Pantheon Sorbonne University in Paris and specializes in the Western Mediterranean, manuscripts and pilgrimage-related devotional materials in the Islamic world. In the 2017-2018 academic year, Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya undertook a research project at Harvard University as a post-doctoral research associate, in the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Art and Architecture. With a great interest in languages, Dr. Chekhab-Abudaya holds a degree in Literal Arabic and Oriental Dialects from the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO). She also studied Persian and Turkish at INALCO and the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris, respectively.  Prior to her position in Doha, Dr. Chekhab-Abudaya taught Islamic Art at undergraduate and graduate levels at the Pantheon Sorbonne and INALCO. She also took part in the research and preparation of the new Islamic Art display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, which opened in September 2012. At MIA, she has curated ‘Hajj – The Journey through Art’ (2013 – 2014) in collaboration with the British Museum, ‘Building Our Collection: Ceramics of Al Andalus’ (2014), and ‘Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-century Iran’ (2015). She also assisted in making ‘The Hunt: Princely Pursuits in Islamic Lands’ (2015) and co-curated two more exhibitions in 2017: ‘Imperial Threads: Motifs and Artisans from Turkey, Iran and India’, and ‘Powder & Damask, Islamic Arms and Armor from the collection of Fadel Al Mansoori’. In 2020-2021, she co-curated with Dr. Hubert Bari the exhibition ‘A Falcon’s Eye: Tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani’.

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Conveners: Frances Fowle and Mary Kate Cleary