What does a museum do when it has to close for three and a half years for renovation work? The Museum of Islamic Art is using the closure of the Pergamon Museum for renovation work for a participatory project: the reweaving of a Caucasian dragon carpet from the 17th century, which was partially burnt during the Second World War, will be cut up on 23 September 2023 as part of a public festival and will travel around the world until the reopening of the Pergamon Museum in 2027. The fragments will be accompanied by social media and stories on the Museum of Islamic Art’s online portal. The aim of the project is to make ways of cultural exchange visible, to promote participation transregionally and to make social connections tangible.
Fig. above: CulturalxCollabs project carpet next to its historical model in the exhibition of the Museum of Islamic Art, photo F. Kabelitz
“Cultural x Collabs. Weaving the Future.” will start with a public vernissage on Saturday, 23 September 2023, at 12 noon in the Neues Hof next to the James Simon Gallery, where the reinterpretation of the DragonCarpet will be cut up and handed over to different actors. A stage programme will introduce the project and the first owners. Some of these are visitors drawn from the audience or individuals and groups who will creatively engage with the project themes. With the kind support of DHL, the fragments will be sent to personalities worldwide. After a certain time, the pieces will be sent on to new owners with other creative ideas. In their temporary home, the fragments spark and strengthen the relationships of different people and cultures, which they can share and actively shape under the hashtag #CulturalxCollabs.
A label on the back of each fragment allows owners to share the story(s) and themes they associate with their fragment. Selected stories will be published on the Museum of Islamic Art’s online portal islamic art.smb.museum. In addition, background information is provided on examples of cultural linkage, artworks that travel worldwide and the museum’s collection.
The carpet fragments are representative of our history: only transregional exchange made cultural progress possible. Migration of ideas, objects and people worldwide is the engine of our development. We need exchange!” says Stefan Weber, Director of the Museum of Islamic Art. “With this project, we want to show the opportunity of togetherness through our objects: they link actors and creatively stimulate the power of storytelling across borders. At #CulturalxCollabs, you become part of a transnational network that learns from the stories of our past, celebrates the present and creates a future! We are very happy to have found a partner in DHL that networks professionally, shares our cultural and historical understanding and allows our rugs to travel the world.”
For the planned partial opening of the Pergamon Museum in 2027, the fragments will return to the newly designed exhibition areas of the Museum of Islamic Art, and with them their stories and their temporary owners. Together with the 17th century dragon carpet, old and new will once again enter into a dialogue. The circle of carpet stories closes. Based on the traces of use of the fragments, the stories in social media and the narratives of the owners, the carpet becomes a tangible mediator of new object history(s) and human engagement.
The project is supported by DHL.
More information: islamic-art.smb.museum/en/story/culturalxcollabs
The opening of the participatory project will take place on 23 September 2023 from 12 to 16:30 in the Neues Hof (between the James Simon Gallery and the Neues Museum) – free of charge and without registration. Visitors can get up close and personal with the carpet, win a fragment as a first owner or a guided tour of the exhibition, and learn more about the project “CulturalxCollabs – Weaving the Future” and the opportunities for participation.