EXHIBITION WILL SHOWCASE TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN’S REVIVAL OF ARTISANS IN AFGHANISTAN

Media only: Allison Peck (202) 633-0447; pecka@si.edu
Nicolla Hewitt (917) 770-3166; nicolla@turquoisemountain.org
Media website: asia.si.edu/press
@FreerSackler

March 18, 2015

The Prince of Wales visited the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, Wednesday, March 18. The Prince of Wales was there in his capacity as founder of Turquoise Mountain, a non-profit created to rebuild Kabul, Afghanistan’s historic Old City and to rejuvenate the country’s arts and crafts. The galleries will open an exhibition in March 2016 highlighting both the crafts of Turquoise Mountain artisans and the foundation’s architectural restoration of Kabul’s Old City.

The Prince of Wales, a noted enthusiast of Islamic art and the preservation of traditional crafts, met with Julian Raby, the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art and Islamic art scholar; Shoshana Stewart, the CEO of Turquoise Mountain; and other officials involved with the upcoming exhibition.

“I am thrilled to welcome His Royal Highness to the museum to help us envision how we can best tell Turquoise Mountain’s powerful stories of art and transformation,” said Raby. “The artisans of Turquoise Mountain are bringing vibrant life to the endangered cultural heritage of millennia. They bring hope in place of tumult.”

Founded in 2006, Turquoise Mountain is revitalizing the ruined craft district of Kabul’s historic Old City, known as Murad Khani, training new generations of artisans in traditional techniques lost amid decades of conflict and creating a sustainable future for these indigenous crafts.

“We couldn’t be more looking forward to partnering with the Smithsonian for this exhibition,” Stewart said. “The history, culture and skill that exist in Afghanistan today are incredible resources and immense source of pride. We are happy that visitors in Washington will be able to see that firsthand and enormously grateful to the U.S. government, which has been a long-time partner in the project.”

The exhibition at the Freer and Sackler galleries will showcase Afghan artisans’ unique traditions of woodwork, calligraphy, ceramics and jewelry. Artisans from Murad Khani will be present to share their expertise and demonstrate their craft, allowing visitors to experience first-hand Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage. The show will also feature videos and large-scale photographs. The goal is to make it an immersive experience that simulates a visit to the Murad Khani. On view through December 2016, the exhibition is made possible in part by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development.

The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., together comprise the nation’s museums of Asian art. They contain one of the most important collections of Asian art in the world, featuring more than 40,000 objects ranging in time from the Neolithic to the present day, with especially fine groupings of Islamic art, Chinese jades, bronzes and paintings and the art of the ancient Near East. The galleries also contain important masterworks from Japan, ancient Egypt, South and Southeast Asia and Korea, as well as the Freer’s noted collection of works by American artist James McNeill Whistler.

Founded in 2006 at the request of The Prince of Wales and the president of Afghanistan HE Hamid Karzai by Rory Stewart OBE (author of The Places in Between), Turquoise Mountain has trained hundreds of artisans in traditional arts, rebuilt 112 historic buildings in the Murad Khani district of the historic Old City of Kabul, set up a local primary school and family health clinic serving more than 20,000 patients per year, organized major international exhibitions from the Venice Biennale to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and established partnerships with prestigious international retailers from Bloomingdales and Kate Spade in New York, to Pippa Small and Monsoon-Accessorize in London.

# # #