Islamic Museum of Australia

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The Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA) is a community museum in Thornbury, Melbourne. It began as a not-for-profit foundation[1] founded in May 2010 with the purpose of establishing the first Islamic museum in Australia. It aims to showcase the artistic heritage and historical contributions of Muslims in Australia and abroad through the display of artworks and historical artefacts.[2]

Designed by desypher a Melbourne-based architectural firm,[3] the $10 million Museum was opened on 28 February 2014 by the Australian treasurer Joe Hockey.[4] It shared a $4 million grant from the Victorian government's multicultural facilities program.[5] The Museum was established by Moustafa Fahour, who is Director of the Museum[6] and Maysaa Fahour, with his brother Ahmed Fahour (CEO of Australia Post) and family contributing $4 million, early in 2014, to the IMA.[7]

The unique architectural style features a rusted Corten steel facade representing the Australian outback, wrapped a white cube covered in geometric tilework with Arabic calligraphy.

The IMA is the first centre of its kind in Australia to showcase a diverse range of Islamic arts including architecture, calligraphy, paintings, glass, ceramics and textiles. The Museum also aims to promote new and established Islamic artists, both local and international. The Temoporary Gallery has hosted exhibitions such as 'Mush' by Sydney Blake Prize winning artist Khaled Sabsabi, and 'Borderlands': Islamic design covered surfboards by Sydney based artist Phillip George.[8] The permanent art gallery contains many unique works, including a 2011 Archibald shortlisted portrait of Waleed Aly. The effort to establish this purpose-built Islamic Museum was geared towards sharing the artistic and historical achievements of Muslims internationally, and particularly in Australia. The Australian Muslim History gallery focuses on the history of Afghan cameleers, Malay pearlers, Albanian farmers and others.This was documented in the book and documentary, 'Boundless Plains', produced by the IMA based on a 2011 expedition unearthing unique Muslim stories from outback Australia [9]

The site backs onto Merri Creek, near the border of Thornbury and Brunswick East, two of Melbourne’s well established multicultural suburbs.[5]

The Museum's 'Modern Middle Eastern Cafe' is run by Masterchef Australia 2013 Top 3 finalist Samira El-Khafir, who is Fahour's sister.[7]

The Islamic Museum of Australia's permanent exhibition was 'Highly Commended' in the 2014 Museums Australia MAGNA awards, endorsed as: "An important new museum which sensitively interconnects Australia's Muslim heritage with strong interpretive themes".[10] Dr. Yassir Morsi, from the International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding at the University of South Australia, in his review lists a number of deficiencies saying the museum displays, "how European we are when we colonise our Islamic history". He says the museum’s only saving grace is the large oil painting of Waleed Aly.[11]

Etihad Airways and Dubai-based Habtoor Leighton Group[12] are principal partners, while the museum branding was completed by Design 55 - a Dubai based studio. Gallery One from the Jumeirah Beach Residence Dubai, supplies the museum's gift store. The museum has a major UAE influence.[13]

The federal government contributed $1.5 million towards the IMA in the 2012-13 budget.[14] The Australian Labor Party promised to contribute a further $3 million during its unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2013.[15]

In February 2015 the Saudi Government contributed $1 million towards the IMA.[16] In March of that year the federal government allocated $500,000 and the state government pledged $450,000[17] for an arts and culture education program which will be developed by the IMA.[18]

In 8 October 2015, the Islamic Museum of Australia welcomed social activist Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, to the museum.

See also


  1. ^ "The trustee for the foundation for the islamic museum of australia". Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). 19 May 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Farouque, Farah (2 May 2011). "Planned museum hopes to shed light on Islam". The Age. 
  3. ^ desypher
  4. ^ "Joe Hockey launches Australia's first Islamic Museum in Thornbury". Northcote Leader. 4 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Melbourne Times Weekly". 29 Jan 2013. 
  6. ^ Murphy, Jason (13 October 2012). "Fahour’s family spirit for Islamic museum". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Whinnett, Ellen (18 June 2014). "Australia Post donates boss Ahmed Fahour’s $2m bonus to Islamic Museum of Australia". Herald Sun. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Borderlands exhibition fosters cultural understanding". 12 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Boundless Plains". 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Morsi, Yassir (2 April 2014). "Visit to The Islamic Museum of Australia". Australian Muslim Times. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Dubai's HLG to sponsor Oz Islamic museum". Arabian Business. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "First Islamic museum in Australia launches in Melbourne with major UAE influence". The National. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Strickland, Katrina (10 May 2012). "Islamic museum gets $1.5m in budget". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "New Museum Celebrating the Wealth of Islamic Culture - Receives $3 Million From Federal Labor". 
  16. ^ KSA gives $1m in donation to Islamic Museum in Australia
  17. ^ Islamic Museum of Australia gets government cash to develop online education program
  18. ^ "$500,000 for Islamic Museum of Australia Arts and Culture Education Program". Media release. The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 

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