BU Today

Arts & Entertainment + Campus Life

A Timeline History of Islamic Art and Architecture

Nasser D. Khalili shares his collection with the world

Few art scholars have assembled collections as diverse and comprehensive as those of Nasser D. Khalili (Hon.’03), a Boston University trustee and the chair of Islamic art and archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Since 1970, Khalili has brought together, under the auspices of the Khalili Family Trust, a collection of Japanese art of the Meiji period, a collection of Spanish damascened metalwork, and one of Swedish textiles. But Khalili’s most impressive collection is that of Islamic art, holding more than 20,000 items. Parts of that collection have been seen by over half a million people, in exhibitions at the Musee Rath in Geneva, at the Brunei Gallery in London, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and at more than 13 museums in the United States.

Much of the collection is now accessible to an even greater audience: it is presented in the book The Timeline History of Islamic Art and Architecture, written by Khalili and published by Worth Press. The book is one of 17 published volumes (10 more volumes are planned) on the collection that bring the genius and diversity of Islamic art to a wider audience. Until now, histories of the art of Islamic lands have either been very general or highly focused on particular regions or types of art. The Timeline History of Islamic Art and Architecture, which includes more than 800 color images, presents artifacts from the seventh century to the present and from Spain to Indonesia. Click here to see a slide show of some of the art from the book.