Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsREBECCA BRIDGMAN: Hello, my name's Rebecca Bridgman, and I'm the Curator of Islamic and South-Asian Art here at Birmingham Museums.
Skip to 0 minutes and 19 secondsWell, we were really delighted to have the Birmingham Quran on display here at the museum and art gallery when the display opened in February, 2016 because obviously it's a manuscript that's of massive importance to the communities in Birmingham. And we knew that it would be really popular, and a lot of people did come to see the Quran when it was on display during the first six months of the gallery. Then, as that display came to an end, we had a big event with Muhammad Ali. He curated an event that involved schoolchildren from the city chanting a nasheed of some of the verses that were in that Quran, and the event was just massively popular.
Skip to 1 minute and 2 secondsLiterally we'd put tickets online, and they would sell out within a few hours. So we had around 200 people in the gallery for that event. It brought in a massively diverse audience to the Museum and Art Gallery, which was really pleasing for us. A lot of people who'd never been to the museum before, it was their first time here, so they said how much they enjoyed the event, how they'd like to come back to the museum and art gallery. So for us that was a really successful event.
Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsSo these are the two objects that were put on display after the Birmingham Quran was returned to the University of Birmingham, and they're really an example of how the gallery here on Faith in Birmingham continues to evolve. They're the first new purchases of Islamic art for over 100 years for Birmingham's collection, and the really important thing for us is that they were acquired and in consultation with Birmingham Muslim communities. So we were able to purchase these through our HLF Collecting Cultures project.
Skip to 2 minutes and 13 secondsAnd these two objects, although they were made outside of Birmingham-- so the Qibla indicator is actually an Ottoman object made in Turkey in the 18th or 19th century-- there are still some things that the Muslim communities in Birmingham very much recognise. And you know, versions of Qibla indicators and compasses are still used today. So they're great objects to allow us to explain kind of Islam as a faith and Islam as a continuing faith that is very active within Birmingham.
Skip to 2 minutes and 49 secondsWell, the Faith in Birmingham gallery was really kind of driven by the faith communities in the city. We know that Birmingham is one of the most faithful cities in the UK. It contains almost 75% of-- sorry, almost 75% of the population identify with one faith or another, and we really wanted to give those people a voice in Birmingham Museums to represent their beliefs, their faiths, in the Museum and Art Gallery.
Skip to 3 minutes and 16 secondsSo what we did is we gathered together a group of people from the interfaith community, from the six major faiths in the city-- so people who were Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, or Buddhist-- and they formed what we call a working group who basically designed the gallery, helped us choose the objects for the gallery, and also helped us write the labels for the gallery. So it's very much a community-led project that is sort of brought to reality here.
Rebecca Bridgman, Curator of Islamic and South Asian Art, Birmingham Museums Trust
Firstly we hear from Rebecca Bridgeman, Curator of Islamic and South Asian Art at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG).
BMAG exhibited the Birmingham Qur’an as part of the ‘Faith in Birmingham’ gallery and continue to work with the various faith communities of Birmingham to further develop the gallery and indeed, their collections. You will also get a flavour of the exhibition by watching the film made by the artist Mohammad Ali.