Visitors to the Islamic Museum of Australia will get to learn about Islamic heritage and culture, as well as the contributions of Muslims in Australia. By Najwa Abdullah.
The Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA), the first of its kind in Australia, opened its doors to the public on March 3, 2014. Located in Thornbury, Melbourne, the IMA’s mission is to “create a culture of awareness and understanding through innovative environments, programs and tools that help people nurture their curiosity about Islam and build bridges of understanding between cultures”.
A non-profit organisation founded in 2010, IMA aims to display the rich artistic heritage and historical contributions of Muslims in Australia and abroad through the display of various artworks, documents and historical artifacts.
The museum is the brainchild of two Australian Muslims — IMA founder and director Moustafa Fahour and his wife Maysaa Fahour, the museum chairperson and director. According to UAE’s English daily The National, the couple relocated with their family to Dubai in 2012, but did not give up their dream of building the IMA. It was in the UAE that Moustafa worked with the Dubai designers North55 to create the museum branding. Moustafa, who has a full-time job at construction company Leighton Holdings, worked closely with his wife to supervise the project long distance.[i]
In anticipation of the museum’s public launch, there have already been positive responses from the local community. IMA’s education director Sherene Hassan told Melbourne’s tabloid Herald Sun: “More than 30 schools from throughout Victoria, as well as Tasmania and South Australia, had contacted the museum to organise a tour.” The tours will “provide an interactive experience for students across five galleries: Islamic faith, Australian Muslim history, Islamic contributions to civilization, Islamic architecture and art as well as a series of visiting exhibitions”.[ii]
The Age website wrote that the museum will “explain the tenets of the Islamic faith, and the meaning of misconstrued terms such as jihad and sharia. It also displays in details the story of the prophet Muhammad and Muslims’ inventions in maths, science, literature and chess. Another exhibit puts in the picture the story of Australia’s Muslims, including Indonesians who traded with Aborigines in the 1700s”.[iii]
Visitors can also look forward to events such as book launches, corporate functions, cross-cultural training, calligraphy and art and craft classes, which are part of initiatives to promote tourism and capture public interest.
The museum’s opening hours are from 10am to 4pm from Monday to Thursday and from 10am to 9pm on Friday. For more information, go to the IMA website.
[i] Saeed Saeed, ‘The UAE’s crucial roles in the new Islamic Museum of Australia’, The National, February 24 2014, available here
[ii] Julia Irwin, ‘Islamic Museum of Australia opening in Thornbury next month’, the Herald Sun, February 3 2014, available here
[iii] Carolyn Webb, ‘Art, history, sweets: our first Islamic museum opens’, The Age, February 6th 2014, available here