Despite being home to the US president who imposed a Muslim ban that left the region and Muslim-Arab Americans feeling unwelcomed, Washington DC is now home to a new museum that’s entirely dedicated to Arab art and culture—a move that could very well start a new and much-needed debate in the American capital. Think of it as Washington DC’s very own Mosaic Room.
The new gallery is due to open in September, and comes as part a think tank,he Middle East Institute, and will be situated in the heart of the city, taking over 112 square metres in a historic building in the Dupont Circle Area.
“Right now, Washington is particularly obsessed with the Middle East as a security problem. They’ve always viewed the Middle East through a security lens, but now, with the Muslim travel ban and Trump’s position on general regional affairs, it’s more important than ever to shine a different light on the region and bring new perspectives to audiences that have never encountered much Arab art before,” Kate Seele, Middle East Institute’s Vice President told The National.
The gallery’s inaugural show, entitled Arabicity | Ourouba, will bring together 18 established Arab artists, that include Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj, Egyptian artist Chant Avedissian, Ayman Baalbaki, Susan Hefuna, and Raeda Saadeh. The show is curated by renowned Rose Issa, who has championed art from the Arab world and Iran in a career that’s spanned over 30 years. A show featuring Magnum’s Arab Documentary Photography programme will follow in December.
Arabicity / Ourouba, September 14 – November 22, MEI Gallery, Washington, DC