Los Angeles Museum Forced to Hold Islamic Art Exhibit in Qatar

Posted on April 16, 2012


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has at last completed its largest exhibition of Islamic art. The exhibit, “Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts” is now on display. The only problem being that it is 8,000 miles away from Los Angeles in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

In 2010, Russia placed a ban on all art and artifact loans to American museums in response to an American federal court ruling that Russia must return the Schneerson Library to Chabad, a Jewish religious movement established during the 18th century in Russia. Russian authorizes were unsatisfied with law concerning the safeguard of foreign art loans from seizure and created a separate treaty with the U.S. covering the exchanges of cultural property. This boycott prevented the full vision of the Islamic art exhibit to be shown in the U.S.

In spite of the Russian ban, the L.A. and Houston exhibits still housed over 200 works. According to Linda Komaroff, the curator of Islamic art, “A lot of glitzy objects” were on view in L.A. despite the Russian boycott, Komaroff said, but “this was the extra bling – the jewel-encrusted saddle and stirrups, and all kinds of other courtly paraphernalia, and they’re just spectacular looking. It’s an array that added another layer of meaning. It was exciting for me to see it, but I wish it was in the exhibition here.”

Read LACMA’s vision is realized in Qatar; Russia bans loans of art to U.S. on the Sacramento Bee.

Thanks to Kristina Bauer for her assistance with this post.