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Symposia

The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art hosts symposia at Shangri La devoted to themes and questions of central importance to advancing the study of Islamic art. Previous symposia have been inspired by highlights of the collection, including nineteenth century Damascene interiors, the role of women in South Asian art and architecture, and more recently, tile work and its relationship to architecture. A central aim of the symposia program has been to examine Islamic art from an interdisciplinary perspective. As such, conservators, art and architectural historians, and preservation architects have all lent a critical voice to the compelling dialogues held at the site.

The Damascus Room in Context: Acquisition, Furnishings and Conservation, 2012
The Damascus Room in Context: Acquisition, Furnishings and Conservation, 2012

To coincide with the public opening of the Damascus Room at Shangri La on July 7, 2012, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art hosted an interdisciplinary colloquium inspired by the 18th century Syrian interior and its furnishings. An international group of art historians, historians and conservators gathered for a workshop-style convening on June 27-28. Central goals of the colloquium included summarizing the findings of four phases of conservation efforts by the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC), examining the various textiles that furnish the space from both technical and socio-economic perspectives, introducing the conservation program for portable vessels selected for display, furthering understanding of Duke's lifelong interest in Damascus and its residential architecture, clarifying the dating of the Damascus Room's 'ajami components, and contextualizing the DDFIA interior in relation to insitu examples, as well as the domestic realities of the ordinary classes during the late Ottoman period.

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Color Cladding: Islamic Tiles from the Doris Duke Collection, 2011
Color Cladding: Islamic Tiles from the Doris Duke Collection, 2011

From March 6-8, 2011, DDFIA hosted a small workshop at Shangri La on Islamic tiles organized by Islamic art scholars Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom (2009 scholars-in-residence). The three-day program brought together a diverse group of seven academics, curators, and conservators to present and discuss new research on Islamic tiles, including notable examples in Shangri La's collection, such as the thirteenth-century luster mihrab from Veramin (48.327). Jonathan Bloom opened the symposium with a keynote public lecture entitled "From Babylon to Baths: The History of Tiles in the Near East,"which was held at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (HAA) Doris Duke Theatre before an audience of 70 people. Other workshop participants included Sheila Blair, Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, Boston College; John Hirx, Senior Conservator, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Linda Komaroff, Curator of Islamic Art, LACMA; Tomoko Masuya, Professor of Islamic Art, University of Tokyo; Oliver Watson, Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, Oxford University; and Keelan Overton, Shangri La's Curator of Islamic (June 2011-November 2012).

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The Patronage and Production of Art and Architecture by Women in South Asia in the Modern Era, 2008
The Patronage and Production of Art and Architecture by Women in South Asia in the Modern Era, 2008

A symposium dedicated to the role of women in the production of art and architecture in modern South Asia was held at Shangri La May 18-20, 2008. This workshop-style symposium was organized by Dede Fairchild Ruggles, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Art History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who served as a scholar-in-residence at Shangri La in 2005. Ruggles convened national and international scholars working on the role of women as architects and patrons of the arts in 19th and 20th century South Asia. The papers and discussions included Seen Through a Screen: Doris Duke's Patronage of South Asian Artists by Shangri La's former curator Sharon Littlefield; Purdah, Self Expression and Patronage of the Maharanis of Jaipur by Catherine Asher, University of Minnesota; Ray Eames in India by Saloni Mathur, University of Los Angeles; First Women Architects of India and Sri Lanka by Mary Woods, Cornell University; and Women Architects in India 1960 Onwards by Madhavi Desai, CEPT University.

Shangri La Unfolding: Space, Place & the Decorative Arts, 2006
Shangri La Unfolding: Space, Place & the Decorative Arts, 2006

Convened by Kazi Ashraf, Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Hawaii, the purpose of this international symposium was to bring together a group of distinguished thinkers and critics to further expand understanding of Shangri La through architectural and cultural analyses and to use the house as a platform for exploring broader issues of current relevance. The two and a half day program, from January 14-16, 2006, focused on small group discussions surrounding the topic of Shangri La as a house of surprising juxtapositions sitting at the intersection of contradictory orientations. Where does it fit, for example, in the nexus of "Orientalism," modernism and post-modernism?

Preserving a Sense of Awe: The History and Conservation of Interiors from Ottoman Damascus, 2004
Preserving a Sense of Awe: The History and Conservation of Interiors from Ottoman Damascus, 2004

From May 24-26, 2004, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art hosted a symposium on the history and conservation of Syrian interiors. This symposium provided the opportunity for a small, multi-disciplinary group of conservators, art historians, and other professionals to discuss the history and preservation of Syrian interiors in light of conservation efforts being undertaken at Shangri La, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. The three day symposium served as a forum for sharing information about Syrian interiors through in-depth presentations, discussions, a tour of Shangri La, and firsthand observation of Shangri La's two Syrian interiors.

Islamic Art in Paradise, 2003
Islamic Art in Paradise, 2003

In partnership with the Honolulu Academy of Arts (HAA), this international symposium was organized to celebrate the opening of Shangri La and the new gallery of Islamic Art at the Academy. From January 9-11, 2003, the Academy hosted public lectures, while DDFIA hosted seminar sessions with invited participants. Scholarly discussions focused on papers pertinent to the Doris Duke collection.

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