The Museum’s Role in Amplifying and Sustaining Craft and Making

Dr Leslee Michelsen, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, Honolulu, HI, USA

This conversation will focus on the ways in which museums have contributed to the development and promotion of the craft heritage sector through exhibitions, publications, and commissions, with a focus on projects undertaken by the Doris Duke Foundation and Turquoise Mountain.

Dr Leslee Michelsen leads the team responsible for the exhibition, interpretation, research, and conservation of Shangri La’s collection of historic and contemporary arts of the Islamic world. Previously, she consulted for UNESCO Afghanistan on the curatorial content of the Bamiyan Cultural Center from 2015–16, and was the Head of the Curatorial and Research Section at the Museum of Islamic Art Doha from 2011–2015. She has worked with artists, craftspeople, museums, and archaeological projects in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Zanzibar. She is the author of numerous publications including the exhibition catalogue Ferozkoh: Tradition and Continuity in Afghan Art, seven entries on Afghanistan in The Encyclopedia of Crafts in the Asia-Pacific Region, the entry on jali for the Encyclopaedia of Islam III (in press), and an upcoming article on the longstanding practice of commissioned crafts at Shangri La.

This conversation will be hosted by the series organizer, Dr Fahmida Suleman, Curator, Islamic World, Royal Ontario Museum; and Dr Ulrike Al-Khamis, Interim Director and Director of Collections and Public Programs, Aga Khan Museum

Detail of a silver pendant made by jewellers working with Turquoise Mountain. Photo: L. Michelsen
Detail of the Moroccan ceiling at Shangri La Museum © Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art
Admiring a Faig Ahmed carpet. Photo: L. Michelsen

This event is part of an eight-part monthly series entitled “Crafting Conversations: Discourses on the Craft Heritage of the Islamic World – Past, Present and Future,” an initiative of the Islamic Art and Material Culture Collaborative (IAMCC), Toronto, Canada.

The IAMCC is a new research network based in Toronto that brings together the capacities and resources of the University of Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Aga Khan Museum. Its aim is to foster innovative and interdisciplinary research on the diverse arts and material cultures of the Islamic world in its broadest sense.

For more information on the series and IAMCC please visit our website.

This event will be held via Zoom. If you have any questions or want to be added to the IAMCC mailing list please email: