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13 Centuries Of Islamic Culture On Display At The Met

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In an event 8-years in the making the Met opened it's newly renovated Islamic Art Galleries, fifteen in all.

CBS2's Dana Tyler was at the museum for an eye-opening journey through the Arab lands, Turkey, Iran, Central and South Asia. The galleries opened in November and curator Naveena Najaht Hye-Dar says that they have been popular from the start.

"Islamic art and culture is not a world apart from our world, it's part of our great unified world that we share and it's an aspect of human heritage we can all learn from and enjoy," she said, "and that is a way for us to understand each other better at a time when the world is sometimes divided so it's a bridge between people. Education for everybody."

The exhibit is a sweeping and fresh look at Islamic civilization through art and objects both religious and secular, it represents thirteen centuries of Islamic cultures. It includes a permanent collection of 12,000 Islamic artworks.

"We have such depth in the collection that every 4 months we will put entirely new selections of textiles, equally wonderful paintings, and other works on paper, and other objects," said Hye-Dar.

A full gallery is devoted to the medieval city of egypt and the various dynasties that ruled in the region.

Some of the museums treasures from the Islamic cultures of Spain, Northern Africa, and Southern Italy are there on loan from the Hispanic Society of America.

Hye-Dar says that she has been encouraged by visitors' heartwarming responses and an openness to learn about Islamic cultures during a crucial time in history.

"We've had an older generation whose lived through lots of bad times, political turmoil, and now are able to turn the page if you like in such a positive way and they're so grateful for a new prospective through the works of art," she said, "we've had young lovers falling into each others arms moved to do so because of the beauty of the objects all around, so I think it's an exciting way to see the power of art."

The redesigned Islamic Art Department Galleries are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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