Al-Sabah Collection.. a beacon of Kuwaiti cultural diplomacy

By Samie Al-Dulaimi

WASHINGTON, May 28 (KUNA) — Just as important as are the political and humanitarian aspects of Kuwaiti diplomacy, the cultural role assumed by Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah, led by Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah and his wife Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, cannot be denied.
The ancient antiquities owned by Sheikh Nasser, mostly ancient Islamic pieces known today as the Al-Sabah Collection, have travelled to the greatest museums and venues in the world.
From the Kremlin in Moscow to the Louvre in Paris to Madrid’s Royal Palace to name a few – Sheikha Hussah works tirelessly to shed a light on “the bright side of our culture.” Her visit to Washington DC, after passing by New York, was to deliver a speech at the American Alliance of Museums’ Annual Meeting and Museum Expo at the Walter E. Convention Centre, which showcased discussions and meetings of museum leaders from around the world.
“In the US, we have been participating consistently as early as the 1980s mainly at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,” she told KUNA in an exclusive interview.
Since then, these travels have “expanded,” said Sheikha Hussah, as the collection “became more known in America and in the West in general.” “People became aware of our collection and they invited us to participate in exhibitions, so we either loaned them our pieces or we had our own exhibitions travelling or touring the world.” Before her stop at the US capital Sheikha Hussah had spent some time in New York, where the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known locally as the Met, is housing around 18 pieces of the Al-Sabah Collection in an exhibition called Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs.
Meanwhile, over 300 pieces are being showcased at a museum in Houston, Texas, which Sheikha Hussah said will be there for around four years.
In total, the Al-Sabah Collection has travelled uninterrupted for 13 years across seven US states and 13 nations around the world.
Sheikha Hussah said that many people were supporting the cause in Kuwait, either through financial contributions (companies, firms, financial institutions) or through voluntary services.
Before meeting KUNA, she spoke to a large audience of intellectuals and museum enthusiasts about the many roles of women in Kuwait, how hosting one of the exhibitions in New York after the 9/11 attacks became a “loud denunciation” of terror and how the Amricani Hospital in Kuwait, which currently hosts Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah, remains a symbol of unity between the US and Kuwait.
“When I visit a museum I allow myself to be a visitor, not a museum professional, and to be astounded by what I see.
“I make myself look past the creative way objects are displayed or historic buildings are set up and focus on the objects themselves and the stories they tell,” she said. (end) sd

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