Gallery of the Islamic World opens at British Museum

Nick Myall
Monday 25 Feb 2019

Stanton Williams Architects has completed a new gallery to house the British Museum’s extensive collection of Islamic art and artefacts. The Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World is located in two historic nineteenth century spaces in the London museum.

The design seeks to manipulate natural light entering the gallery, while still protecting its precious collection from direct sunlight. This is achieved through a design incorporating reworked rooflights and five newly created openings in the building façade. 

The architect collaborated with artist Ahmad Angawi, who has created a series of delicate and traditional filigree walnut screens in the two gallery spaces. The screens’ individual interlocking components produce an atmospheric effect as light filters through. The design was inspired by the diversity of culture of Hijaz, the western region of Saudi Arabia, and created in response to light studies, carried out by consultant Arup Lighting.

The gallery’s pared-back design maximises the impact of the objects on display and the museum architecture. The format of the large, bespoke display cases – and the choice and arrangement of exhibits in them, was developed through discussions with the British Museum’s curators and conservators. The display cases were made by specialist Goppion. A new timber floor with a slate border has also been installed throughout the gallery.

Visitors to the gallery progress on a journey through 15 centuries to the present day. This journey concludes with a 5 metre high plaster wall, provided to accommodate a flexible display of contemporary Islamic art. Displays are enhanced by the use of new digital media.

More museum or exhibition space projects displaying excellence in interior design will be recognised at the World Interiors News Awards (WIN Awards) 2018, which take place on 19 November 2018 in London. Click here to find out more. 

Jo Smit

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