New carpet galleries at the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin
The new carpet galleries at the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin contextualise the collections while keeping its woven masterpieces centre stage. The following is an extract from the Last Page section in HALI 198, entitled ‘Berlin’s carpets in context’:
In 1904, Wilhelm von Bode presented the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin with about 20 rugs from his private collection. These holdings were added to, only to later be decimated in the Second World War. This history is told in the renewed carpet galleries inaugurated in late October 2018.
As part of the new permanent exhibition ‘Dream and Trauma’, they present historic photos and even a display conjuring up the smell of charred wool, representing the destruction caused by incendiary bombs in 1945.
For the first time, surviving fragments from this period are on view, including part of a 16th-century Persian rug, the first work of art to be introduced into the collection, and a Caucasian dragon carpet with fire damage across its six-metre length. As a consequence, attention is given to conservation practices then and now and different methods of weaving.
All this context is welcome, but the rugs themselves remain the stars of the show.