Frick Pittsburgh Postpones Islamic Art Exhibition

Frick Pittsburgh Postpones Islamic Art Exhibition to Avoid Insensitivity Related to Israel-Hamas War.

Nov 6, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Frick Pittsburgh
Image via the institution.


Frick Pittsburgh was the place for presenting an exhibition of thousands of years of Islamic artistic creations. Instead of hosting it this week, the institution postponed the gathering for 2024. Overall, this happened because of the ongoing Israel-Hamas War. The museum changed its pace to avoid becoming “a source of unintended insensitivity or offense”.


Both Jewish and Muslim Org Disappointed With Frick Pittsburgh

Frick Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 29: General view of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline during a regular season game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates on July 29, 2023. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images). 


Initially, the museum postponed the display due to “a scheduling conflict,” according to the museum’s web page. Elizabeth Barker, the museum’s executive director, said: “We realized that we were about to open an exhibition that a forgiving person would call insensitive, but for many people, especially in our community, would be traumatic”.


Not everybody concurs. Jewish and Muslim organizations also took issue with the postponement. As they said, the decision “seemed to suggest or imply a false connection between masterpieces of Islamic art and terrorism”.


history of islam painting prayer
An Islamic Egyptian family during an evening prayer, by Jean-Baptiste Huysmans, 1859, via Sotheby’s


“The decision to postpone the … exhibition under the pretext of potential harm to the Jewish community perpetuates the harmful stereotype that Muslims or Islamic art are synonymous with terrorism or antisemitism“, Christine Mohamed, the executive director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said.

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“Islamic has nothing to the with Hamas”

qur an islamic miniature decoration manuscript
Qur’an Manuscript, 1851-1852, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


On WESA radio, Adam Hertzman, a representative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, reiterated that opinion. “Few people in the Jewish community would have been concerned about an exhibit on Islamic art because we understand that it has nothing to do with Hamas, which is a terrorist organization”, he said.


The exhibition was planned long ago, the institution said in a more comprehensive explanation, uploaded to its official website. “It would have been impossible to predict that war would erupt in the Middle East during the time of this show, prompting widespread heartbreak and mounting social tension. The exhibition lacked sufficient historical and cultural context and participation from the regional Islamic community and others”.


Frick Pittsburgh


Walter B. Denny, a retired professor of Islamic art who helped prepare a publication related to the exhibition, told the Times the postponement is ironic since the exhibition was meant to help people understand the diversity of Islamic art. “The collection is so far away from anything that is remotely political or sympathetic to fanaticism”.


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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.