MWNF celebrates its 20th anniversary (1994 – 2014) with a series of posts dedicated to the milestones in its history.
Eva Schubert | March 24, 2014 | 12:05 pm | other | No comments

The history of MWNF is the history of the people who have made it happen.

Our story starts in Innsbruck, the main city of the Austrian region of Tyrol, where I had been in charge of Hispania-Austria, one of the very first big art exhibitions, jointly organised by the Spanish and Austrian governments on the occasion of the big events that took place in Spain in 1992 (EXPO Sevilla, etc.). The great success of that exhibition and excellent relations with the local authorities were the basis for my decision to implement in Tyrol the pilot project for a new exhibition format, the “Exhibition Trail”: instead of moving the works of art it is the visitor who travels to discover artefacts and monuments within their natural environment. The exhibition catalogue, conceived as a thematic guide book, becomes the key element for a new exhibition experience. The idea for what was at that time a totally new approach came through the contacts I had established between 1992 and 1993 with cultural and tourism authorities in many countries around the Mediterranean and, subsequently, my involvement as an independent expert in the preparation of the so-called Barcelona Process.

These were the years of the Oslo talks, and optimism, sometimes even enthusiasm, about the chances for real peace in the Middle East was widespread all over the region. From those very first talks – normally with the ministers in charge of Culture Heritage or Tourism – it was clear to me that cultural heritage could play a major role in this process but that it was necessary to invent something that combined impact in the media (such as a big art exhibition) with something sustainable (such as the development of thematic trails). The idea of the “Exhibition Trail” was born.

The pilot project was implemented in Tyrol, in cooperation with the local authorities, and included three Exhibition Trails and related catalogues: 1994 The Gothic, 1995 Baroque & Rococo, 1996 Maximilian I. The catalogues, by the way, are still on sale!

Some weeks before the inauguration of The Gothic, the Tunisian Embassy in Vienna announced the visit of a representative of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage at the Tunisian Ministry of Culture to learn more about the concept of the “Exhibition Trails”. Aware of the importance of that visit, publishers from different Mediterranean countries were invited to attend the opening ceremony and to participate in a discussion about the possibilities of transferring the Tyrolean experience to the Mediterranean.

This first meeting was totally informal and brainstorming took place during meals and visits to different itineraries of The Gothic Exhibition Trails. The result of these first talks was the decision to set up the “Lights of the Mediterranean” Exhibition Trails, and the Tunisian government offered to host a second meeting of the publishers to discuss the concrete possibilities of its realisation.

At this phase of the beginning of MWNF the role of Javier Muñiz, who shared with me most of those experiences, was crucial. Javier is still with us and I would like to thank him for so many years of friendship and close collaboration.

Continues ….

To know more about the history of MWNF:

Blogger PostTwitterYahoo MailFacebookShare/Bookmark
The destruction of the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, a humanitarian disaster
Khaled Azab | January 28, 2014 | 6:02 am | Guests' Articles | No comments

Cairo, 26 January 2014

Read more (contribution in Arabic)

Museum of Islamic Art Cairo heavily affected by attack against Cairo Security Directorate
HE Ambassador Fathy El Shazly | January 28, 2014 | 5:41 am | Guests' Articles | No comments

Cairo Friday, 24 January 2014

photo-mohamed ellaw-elwatan newspaper (2)

In another failed attempt to derail Egypt’s democratic transition, Egyptians were subjected as of the early morning hours of Friday, January 24th 2014 to a series of terrorist bombings. The first and biggest terrorist attack targeted Cairo Security Directorate where a car bomb was detonated in the vicinity of the Directorate killing 4 people and injuring 76 most of them civilians. The explosion also caused massive damage to the building of the Museum of Islamic Arts, one of Egypt’s most treasured cultural landmarks, as well as substantial damage to one of the buildings of the National Library and Archives and many of the manuscripts housed therein.

According to the statement of The Attorney General the explosion, which left behind a hole 27 Meter square with more than 2 meter deep in Port Said street, didn’t only chatter the façade and inner offices of the 8 stories building of the Security Directorate and many private buildings but also inflicted a great damage on the façade of the Museum of Islamic Arts across the street. It also destroyed the exhibition glass boxes, three historical Papyrus as well as seven unique manuscripts. The Minister of Culture declared that the building of the museum was seriously affected and it will have to be rebuilt.

I am confident that the family and followers of Museum With No Frontiers are aware of the importance of Cairo Museum of Islamic Arts and the unique nature of most of the artifacts exhibited therein. The Museum of which collections some pieces disappeared in late 2012, has always been proud of having unique and unequaled possessions such as: The key of Al Kaaba, made of copper adorned with gold and silver in the name of sultan Al Ashraf Shaaban, the oldest gold dinar found in the Islamic World, carrying the date of 77 Hijry, unique wooden artifacts and a rare collection of Koran.

On 28 December 1903 the Museum was inaugurated boosting a collection of 3145 items. Along the years the museum became the most important museum of Islamic Arts in the World with more than 100000 items acquired from all corners of the Islamic World. In 2010 after years of closure for restoration and renovation, the Museum was re-inaugurated when only 1700 pieces were found on display. In front of the public raw caused by the meager number of items compared to what was known to be in the possession of the Museum, it was declared that there will be constant change in the items to be exhibited. Now with the terrorist bombing the Museum is suffering another round of bad luck.

To conclude I wish to assure the family and followers of Museum With No Frontiers that terror acts will never deter Egypt’s resolve to continue its valuable contribution to the cultural march of Humanity. On behalf of the World we’ll continue our fight against terrorism with unwavering determination. We are confident that at the end we’ll prevail as Right, Justice and Beauty are all on our side.

Ambassador Fathy El Shazly, Cairo
Member of the MWNF Honorary Committee