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Current Exhibitions

Fashioning an Empire: Safavid Textiles from the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

December 18, 2021–May 15, 2022
Luxury textiles played a critical role in the social, cultural, religious, and economic life of Safavid Iran (1501–1722). Used for clothing, furnishing, and movable architecture, fabrics also functioned as important symbols of power and as ubiquitous forms of artistic expression.

To celebrate the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art is collaborating with the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, part of Qatar Museums, on an exhibition focusing on a selection of extraordinary seventeenth-century textiles and full-length portraits from Safavid Iran.

Prehistoric Spirals: Earthenware from Thailand

Ongoing
Red painted spirals swirl across the surfaces of these vessels, testifying to the sophisticated material and aesthetic cultures of northeastern Thailand more than two thousand years ago. Their makers belonged to a loose network of settlements specializing in bronze and ceramic production. Recent research into their materials, techniques, and designs opens new lines of inquiry into the region’s heritage and its profound cultural and material legacy.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Falcons: Art of the Hunt

January 15–July 17, 2022
Swift, fierce, and loyal, falcons have been celebrated for millennia. In ancient Egypt, they were closely associated with Horus, the god of the heavens. By the early eighth century in Syria, falcons were being trained to become skillful hunters at the royal courts. The art of falconry soon spread across the rest of the Islamic world, to the Byzantine empire in the west, and to the east as far as China. It is still practiced in many societies today, especially in the Arab world.

Mind Over Matter: Zen in Medieval Japan

February 26–July 24, 2022
This exhibition showcases the breadth of the museum’s medieval Zen collections, highlighting rare and striking works from Japan and China to illustrate the visual, spiritual, and philosophical power of Zen. Rooted in the culture of medieval Japan, the lessons of Zen have become an important part of contemporary American life, as applicable today as they were in premodern times.