Thursday, February 11, 2010

Eastern Art Online: Yousef Jameel Centre of Islamic and Asian Art

The Ashmolean Museum has today launched Eastern Art Online: Yousef Jameel Centre of Islamic and Asian Art.

The Online Centre will provide global access to the University of Oxford's Islamic and Asian Art collections held at the Ashmolean. The collections span the Islamic Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, and comprise a wide range of media, including ceramics, textiles, sculpture, metalwork, paintings, and prints.

The Centre will initially focus on the objects and themes featured in the Ashmolean’s new galleries for the Islamic and Asian Collections, with over 1,400 of the Museum’s great treasures of Eastern Art accessible online at launch. This resource will be an invaluable tool for historians and students for research purposes, for craftsmen and designers seeking inspiration, and for an interested and curious public all over the world.

The project began in July 2007 with the support of Yousef Jameel, a philanthropist of the arts and education. To digitise this extensive collection, over 11,000 objects have been photographed to date, providing high quality, zoomable images of objects online. There is an ongoing programme to update and publish all these objects on the web, making this area of the Museum’s collection available online for the first time.

Mr Jameel said: ‘Knowledge should be accessible to everyone, everywhere, at any time. The Online Centre for Islamic and Asian Art will be a major step towards achieving this goal. I envisage the Centre as the hub of a future worldwide network exploring how different cultures learnt from each other and enriched peoples’ lives as a result.’

Future plans now in development include a Study Centre for the Museum’s reserve collections of Asian art comprising three study rooms, along with a number of scholarships for students studying in related areas at the University of Oxford.

This project is part of the Ashmolean’s ambitious redevelopment to open up the collections of art and archaeology to the widest possible audience. In November 2009, the Museum reopened to the public following a major redevelopment. The new building has doubled the display space, providing the Ashmolean with 39 new galleries.

The new display approach Crossing cultures crossing time is presented over five floors throughout the Museum, revealing how the civilizations of the east and west developed as part of an interrelated world culture. Objects’ stories are told by tracing the journey of ideas and influences through time and across continents.

The Director of the Ashmolean, Christopher Brown said: ‘We are extremely grateful to Mr. Jameel for his generous gift. His support will enable the Ashmolean to present the art of the Islamic and Asian world to a wider audience than ever before. Reflecting the methodology of Crossing cultures crossing time, The Yousef Jameel Centre of Islamic and Asian Art will explore the artistic cultures of Asia collectively. By examining their similarities and differences the online visitor will learn that art from the Islamic world coexists with the other great Asian artistic traditions, from India to Japan.’

Click here to go to the Yousef Jameel Centre of Islamic and Asian Art.