The 200-meter long building of the Islamic Museum was constructed in 1987, being inspired by the London Museum of Natural History. While building, traditional Arab-Islamic design elements were used. From the architectural perspective, the museum’s boast is not only its 90 arches, but also the breathtaking Central Golden Dome with a beautiful mosaic on the inside of the dome. It depicts the signs of the zodiac.
The building first opened in 1987 as a souq, an indoor market. The Islamic Museum itself was opened on November 6, 1996, then it became the Souq al Majarrah, a popular place both among local people and tourists. In June 2008, it was opened as a museum again, but this time under the other name: Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.
Situated in the centre of Sharjah on the Majarrah Waterfront, the museum gives one an opportunity to explore more than 1,000 years of the Islamic Civilization through science, arts and religion. It exhibits more than 5,000 items collected from different parts of the Islamic world. Along with old art, contemporary pieces are on display as well.
The permanent collection is divided into seven thematic sections spanning over two floors:
In the Abu Bakr Gallery of Islamic Faith, a visitor can learn about the fundamentals of Islam and the Holy Quran. Priceless historical manuscripts, representations, photographs of mosques from the Islamic world and Europe, presentations and charts are exhibited. The collection also features a silk and gold embroidered replica of the Kiswah, the cloth covering the Kaaba in Mecca. This cloth is one of the most sacred objects in Islamic culture.
The Ibn Al-Haytham Gallery of Science and Technology invites one to familiarize themselves with the scientific achievements of Muslim scholars in many fields such as medicine, geography, chemistry, and others. Among the exhibits there are astrolabes, astronomical devices. Created by Muslim scientists, they were used to locate stars, measure latitudes, and determine the time.
In Islamic Art Gallery 1, the following Islamic relics from the 7th-13th centuries AD are put on view: pottery, glass, woodworks, manuscripts, jewellery, textiles, and works with silver, gold, and brass inlay. They show the influence of Islam in the design world. A new style appeared blending the Arab-Islamic style with geometric and organic (leaves and flowers) motifs.
In Islamic Art Gallery 2, Islamic objects of art made during the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal eras are kept.
Islamic Art Galleries 3-4 include Islamic items used between the 19th-20th centuries AD, the period of the influence of European trends. Islamic craftsmen started to compete with the Western ones; it resulted in changes in styling and quality.
In the Al Majarrah Temporary Exhibition Gallery, temporary exhibitions are held twice a year. Outside this gallery, visitors can have a look at the collections of Islamic coins. Admiring silver dinars and dirhams from Abbasid and Umayyad eras, one learns about the history of these coins.
To get more information about Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, please visit its official web page.
You may be also interested in visiting Miraj Islamic Art Centre and looking at contemporary Arab art at Sharjah Art Museum.