Wikimedia UK has launched a landmark partnership with the UK-based Khalili Collections – one of the greatest and most comprehensive private collections in the world.

As part of the “Masterpieces of the World” project, the Khalili Collections will initially provide a Creative Commons license to several high resolution images, as well as to summaries of its extensive research content relating to artwork and objects from around the world. The Collections plans to continue working with Wikimedia UK to further disseminate its content through the Wikimedia ecosystem so as to enrich the platform’s global cultural content.

“At Wikimedia, we are actively seeking to diversify our cultural content, and the Khalili Collections is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse collections in the world, spanning some two and a half millennia, with masterpieces from Europe, the Middle East, Scandinavia, East Asia, Russia, South Asia, North Africa and beyond”, said Lucy Crompton-Reid, CEO of Wikimedia UK. “We are proud to be partnering with one of the world’s great preservers of global cultural heritage”.

“We are delighted to be working with Wikimedia UK, undeniably a pioneer in delivering free access to cultural knowledge worldwide”, said Professor Nasser D. Khalili, Founder of the Khalili Collections. “The partnership is an important part of our wider, long-standing strategy to make the Collections – and the five decades of expert research dedicated to them – more accessible to art and culture lovers worldwide”.

About the Khalili Collections

Over the course of five decades, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Professor Nasser D. Khalili has assembled eight of the world’s finest art collections – each on its own merit being the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. They comprise:

  • Islamic Art (700-2000)
  • Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage (700-2000)
  • Aramaic Documents (535BC-324 BC)
  • Japanese Art of the Meiji Period (1868-1912)
  • Japanese Kimono (1700-2000)
  • Swedish Textiles (1700-1900)
  • Spanish Damascened Metalwork (1850-1900)
  • Enamels of the World from (1700-2000)

Together, the Eight Collections comprise some 35,000 magnificent works, many of which have been exhibited at prestigious museums and institutions worldwide. Each work of art in the Khalili Collections has been meticulously conserved, researched, catalogued and published as part of what is considered to be one of the most ambitious art scholarship projects in modern history. Seventy-two of over a hundred planned volumes have already been published, edited by Professor Nasser D. Khalili and with contributions from the world’s leading experts in each respective field.

About Wikimedia UK

Wikimedia UK believes that open access to knowledge is a fundamental right, and a driver for social and economic development. A registered charity, we work with the Wikimedia Projects such as Wikipedia to enable people and organisations to contribute to a shared understanding of the world through the democratic creation, distribution and consumption of knowledge.

Wikimedia UK works in partnership with organisations from the cultural and education sectors and beyond in order to unlock content, remove barriers to knowledge, develop new ways of engaging with the public and enable learners to benefit fully from the educational potential of the Wikimedia projects.

We support the development of open knowledge in the UK, by increasing understanding and recognition of the value of open knowledge and advocating for change at an organisational, sectoral and public policy level.

www.wikimedia.org.uk

Google Arts & Culture has launched a historic partnership with the UK-based Khalili Collections – one of the greatest and most comprehensive private collections in the world.

Viewers will now be able to use Google Arts & Culture features – such as browsing for art by year, colour or geographical origin – to explore the highlights of the Khalili Collections such as 10 folios from the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp (c. 1520), 59 folios from the oldest manuscript of  Rashid-al-Din’s world history (Jami al-tawarikh – 1314), an early 13th-century saddle from the era of Genghis Khan and an astrolabe commissioned by Shah Jahan (1648–58).

Some of the most intricately produced artworks, such as Japanese silk textiles from the Meiji period, have been digitised for the first time using Google’s gigapixel Art Camera technology, allowing for ultra high-resolution zoom to explore fine details such as intricate needlework and individual threads.

Special digital exhibits have been curated on the platform, through which the artworks are used to tell compelling visual stories. A Visual History of the Hajj takes viewers on a journey to the two holiest cities in Islam – Mecca and Madinah – and allows them to experience the 1,400-year cultural history of the world’s most phenomenal annual religious gathering. Japonisme Rediscovered explores the unique influence of Japanese Meiji art on European modern and contemporary art. Provincial Life under Artaxerxes and Alexander the Great provides a unique insight into a transformational period in world history by exploring 4th century BC Aramaic documents from ancient Bactria.

“The scale and diversity of the Khalili Collections place them among the most impressive,” said Lucy Schwartz, Program Manager – Head of UK Programs at Google Arts & Culture, “and we are very excited to help make these cultural treasures and the magnificent stories they tell available to millions of people worldwide”.

“A true collector has the social responsibility to fulfil five essential criteria: to collect, conserve, research, publish and exhibit the artworks.” said Professor Nasser D. Khalili, founder of the Khalili Collections. “Digitisation is the natural next step in our mission to enrich as many lives a possible with art. We are proud to be partnering with Google Cultural Institute, the global leaders in this area.”

The Collections plans to continue working with Google Arts & Culture to explore innovative ways in which technology can be harnessed to optimise the viewer experience of the Collections.

About the Khalili Collections

Over the course of five decades, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Professor Nasser D. Khalili has assembled eight of the world’s finest art collections – each on its own merit being the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. They comprise:

  • Islamic Art (700-2000)
  • Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage (700-2000)
  • Aramaic Documents (535BC-324 BC)
  • Japanese Art of the Meiji Period (1868-1912)
  • Japanese Kimono (1700-2000)
  • Swedish Textiles (1700-1900)
  • Spanish Damascened Metalwork (1850-1900)
  • Enamels of the World from (1700-2000)

Together, the Eight Collections comprise some 35,000 magnificent works, many of which have been exhibited at prestigious museums and institutions worldwide. Each work of art in the Khalili Collections has been meticulously conserved, researched and published as part of what is considered to be one of the most ambitious art scholarship projects in modern history. Seventy-two of over a hundred planned volumes have already been published, edited by Professor Nasser D. Khalili and with contributions from the world’s leading experts in each respective field.

About Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts & Culture is a new, immersive way to experience art, history, culture and world wonders from over a thousand organizations worldwide. Google Arts & Culture has been created by the Google Cultural Institute and it is available for free for everyone on the web, on iOS and Android .

The Khalili Collections are proud to announce the reuniting of a landmark Japanese garniture, last seen in complete formation over 120 years ago at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which attracted 27 million visitors, which at the time was almost half the American population. 

 The eight feet tall vases (2.44m) dubbed at the time ‘the largest examples of cloisonné enamel ever made’, took five years to complete and were commissioned by Shin Shinwoda, the Special Councillor for Arts of the Imperial Commission to the Exposition, with the manufacturing trusted to Shirozayemon Suzuki of Yokohama and Seizayemon Tsunekawa of Nagoya. The greatest artisans of the period were employed in their creation – with an all-star team of the most celebrated artists including Araki Kampo (1831-1915) and Oda Kyōsai (1845- 1912) overseeing the designs. Upon completion, the Emperor of Japan had subsequently reviewed them ahead of the exposition. 

The acquisition of the first vase was in the early 1990s in Los Angeles. The Khalili Collections had over the course of the next three decades sought relentlessly to reunite the complete garniture. The centrepiece was eventually found and purchased in Japan in early 2000, with the previous owners being Hirose Atsushi at the Tokyo National Museum. The location of the last vase remained a mystery for years until it was discovered to be hiding in plain sight – in the celebrated Spenger’s Fish Grotto restaurant in Berkeley, California. This vase was purchased in Chicago by Frank Spenger and brought to the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894, which explains how it eventually made itself to Berkeley, California. Finally, in February 2019, The Khalili Collections purchased the last missing vase from an auction house in Auckland, California. 

After over 120 years of seperation, the famous three-piece garniture has finally been reunited in The Khalili Collections’ Japanese Art of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), finding their rightful place in what is considered, alongside the Japanese Imperial Collection, to be the world’s most significant collection of its kind. 

This marks the latest achievement in a long history of separated artworks (originally belonging together as a unit or a pair) being reunited by The Khalili Collections 120 years later. 

Video

The Khalili Collections is proud to be the major contributor to a landmark exhibition on the Hajj at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. Longing for Mecca offers a unique insight into the Hajj, Islam’s most important pilgrimage and one of the world’s biggest religious, spiritual and cultural phenomena. The exhibition is on display until 12th January 2020.

The Khalili Collections – the major contributor to multiple landmark Hajj exhibitions worldwide, including at the British Museum and the Institut du Monde Arabe – has over the last five decades amassed approximately 4,000 rare artworks related to Mecca and Medinah, the two holiest places in Islam.

 

Images:

The Khalili Collections is proud to be the major contributor to a landmark exhibition at the Guimet Museum in Paris to mark the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. This exhibition addresses various aspects of the modernization of Japan and the internationalization of artistic production through different artistic techniques. It includes, among other things, examples of silverware, cloisonné, photographs, textiles, paintings, bronzes and ceramics to illustrate the changes in society as a whole and in art in particular, highlighting great artists such as  Kawanabe Kyosai and Shibata Zeshin.

At the opening of the exhibition on the 16th of October, Professor Khalili said that this is the latest manifestation of a growing appreciation of the Japanese aesthetic in the West. Ever since the Collection’s first milestone 1994 exhibition Japanese Imperial Craftsmen: Meiji art from the Khalili Collection at the British Museum, the idea of Japonisme – the late 19th century European fascination for Japanese art and culture – has seen something of a revival. Having amassed, conserved, researched, published and exhibited the largest Meiji art collection outside of Japan, we at the Khalili Collections are proud and honoured to have played an important role in this revival.

Period: October 17, 2018 – January 14, 2019

The Khalili Collections is proud to be the major contributor to a landmark exhibition at the Guimet Museum in Paris to mark the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration. This exhibition addresses various aspects of the modernization of Japan and the internationalization of artistic production through different artistic techniques. It includes, among other things, examples of silverware, cloisonné, photographs, textiles, paintings, bronzes and ceramics to illustrate the changes in society as a whole and in art in particular, highlighting great artists such as  Kawanabe Kyosai and Shibata Zeshin. 

At the opening of the exhibition on the 16th of October, Professor Khalili said that this is the latest manifestation of a growing appreciation of the Japanese aesthetic in the West. Ever since the Collection’s first milestone 1994 exhibition Japanese Imperial Craftsmen: Meiji art from the Khalili Collection at the British Museum, the idea of Japonisme – the late 19th century European fascination for Japanese art and culture – has seen something of a revival. Having amassed, conserved, researched, published and exhibited the largest Meiji art collection outside of Japan, we at the Khalili Collections are proud and honoured to have played an important role in this revival.

Period: October 17, 2018 – January 14, 2019

Venue: Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet

To mark the end of the Islamic month of Dhu’l Hijjah, we are delighted to share with you our new short film: “Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage“.

We hope you find it enriching.

With best wishes
Professor Nasser D. Khalili
Founder, The Khalili Collections