Founded by the Prophet Muhammad (ca. 570/571-632) in the early 7th century, Islam quickly spread across the known world, from North Africa in the west to island Southeast Asia in the east. Recognizing the importance of Islam as one of the world’s most prominent and widespread religious beliefs, the Academy has a gallery solely dedicated to Islamic art from a rich diversity of international cultures.
The works of art on display in the Islamic Gallery come from the Academy’s permanent holdings and the collection of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, serving as one of the most concrete manifestations of collaboration between the Academy and Doris Duke’s former Hawai‘i residence of Shangri La, now a museum, center for the study of Islamic art, and one of Hawai‘I’s most popular tourist destinations. The Academy’s holdings are particularly strong in art from Iran, with more than 200 works in the permanent collection. Visitors to the museum can see Iranian ceramics from the 10th through the 14th centuries, in particular ceramic tiles originally used as architectural elements, one of the most characteristic forms of Islamic art. Also on display are glass, metalwork, and Persian paintings and manuscripts from the 16th through the 19th centuries.
With the rise of the Mughal Empire (17th-19th centuries), northern India became a vital center for Islamic art, represented by such works as a spectacular bejeweled dagger in the gallery from the Doris Duke Foundation. Islamic art also impacted the islands of the Indonesian archipelago, and included in the gallery are Indonesian textiles used for Islamic rituals.