I am an architectural and art historian, currently working on a paper which questions the ‘normative’ ways through which we might think about Islamic art. The paper is an extension of my doctorate in which I invited to an interdisciplinary reading of the architecture of the Safavid Isfahan and the poetry of the period. I proposed a method of using the structures of one discipline to open doors to a new understanding of the other discipline. Given this, I am interested to go further with this discussion to the mechanisms through which the Islamic art museums work. My question is in terms of the normative systems of display in the Islamic art museums. Indeed, one method is the categorisation of the artefacts via their discipline (so, simply, in a room, you can only find metalware or you can only find textiles or you can only find ceramics…). The other method categorises the objects according to the dynasty or geography (but here again, there’s a sense of avoiding to mix objects from different artistic disciplines. Is that right?). What are the other methods of display of Islamic art that I missed? Do we have any known method of display in which we can see objects from dramatically different disciplines in one place so a viewer can get a glimpse of all different varieties of objects in one take? and which method is the most popular and used method in the museological system of the Islamic art? What sources do you suggest for a comprehensive study (and history) of different methods of display in Islamic art museums?

Thank you for sharing some of the issues you address in your own research and for your questions regarding the methodologies of displaying Islamic art and material culture in museums. You refer to ‘normative’ methods used, such as presenting works by medium, dynasty, or geography. Historically, installations and exhibitions of [...]