With a fixed collection of over 2.3 million objects, the Victoria and Albert Museum is recognised as the world’s leading museum of art and design. The museum first opened its doors in 1852, when it had already amassed an impressive collection of Islamic artwork and crafts. In 2006, when one of the galleries required renovating, Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel became involved with the project by supporting the creation of a home worthy of the unique artefacts displayed, and to assist the museum with expanding the existing collection.
Now known as the Jameel Gallery, it houses over 400 objects, including ceramics, textiles, carpets, metalwork, glass and woodwork, which date from the great days of the Islamic caliphate of the 8th and 9th centuries to the years preceding the First World War.
A highlight of the collection is the Ardabil Carpet, said to be the oldest and largest carpet in the world.
Art Jameel and the Victoria and Albert Museum also collaborate on the Jameel Prize, dedicating to recognising contemporary artists and designers who explore traditional Islamic influences through contemporary art. Every two years, shortlisted practitioners are featured in a touring exhibition. The Jameel Prize 5 will open at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in the summer of 2018.
Founded in 2004 by HRH The Prince of Wales, The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts developed from the Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts Programme (VITA) established at The Royal College of Art in 1984 by Professor Keith Critchlow. Today, the school teaches students the techniques and methods of contemporary art inspired by living tradition.
Art Jameel and the Prince’s School have been in partnership since 2008, when they launched a joint programme (together with the Egyptian Ministry of Culture) to teach the traditional arts in Cairo, Egypt. Today, that programme – known as the Jameel House of Traditional Arts / Cairo – is in its eighth year.
The Jameel House of Traditional Arts Cairo has successfully trained local contemporary artists and artisans; preserved Egyptian cultural heritage; and is now putting the skills taught in the programme to practical use in the conservation and restoration of heritage sites in Islamic Cairo.
In 2015, the Prince’s School and Art Jameel launched a sister school in the Old Town (Al-Balad) of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: the Jameel House of Traditional Arts / Jeddah. As in Cairo, the Jeddah programme is focused on preserving the traditional arts and applying those skills to the conservation and restoration of traditional houses in Al-Balad.
A third centre is currently under construction in Scotland on the Dumfries House estate of HRH The Prince of Wales.