The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Dr. Fahmida Suleman

“Islamic Art & the Museum: A Curatorial Odyssey”

4:00 – 5:30 pm (PST) Wednesday, June 9 2021

Free & open to the public via Zoom 

Presented by UVic’s Department of Art History & Visual Studies, co-sponsored by
the Middle East and Islamic Studies Consortium of British Columbia 

For more information on this lecture please email: 

Challenges for museums

What are the challenges museums face in the display of the arts of the Islamic world?

Since the late 19th century, museums have devoted attention to Islamic art and craft, encompassing objects dating from the seventh century to the present. Ideas about how the diverse and fascinating visual and material cultures of the Islamic world should be displayed have changed significantly over time, reflecting the broader trends in museum practice.

In this discussion AHVS professor Marcus Milwright, Dr. Fahmida Suleman considers the varied roles and responsibilities of a curator of Islamic art, and the ways in which exhibition design can address the social, cultural and ethical concerns of contemporary audiences. A Q&A session facilitated by AHVS alumna, Dr. Atri Hatef Naiemi, will follow.

Researching & exhibiting 

Dr. Fahmida Suleman joined the Royal Ontario Museum in 2019 as the Curator of Islamic Art & Culture after over two decades of experience studying and working in the UK. She oversees the permanent and rotating displays in the ROM’s Wirth Gallery of the Middle East. Dr Suleman is responsible for researching, exhibiting and developing the ROM’s growing collection of Islamic art and material culture, the largest collection of its kind in Canada, numbering approximately 8,100 objects and ranging in date from archaeological artefacts from the 700s CE to objects from the present day including modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art.

Before joining the ROM, Dr Suleman was the Phyllis Bishop Curator for the Modern Middle East at the British Museum for 10 years where she significantly developed the modern ethnographic collections and curated several exhibitions such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Fantastic Creatures in Islamic Painting; Adornment & Identity: Jewellery and Costume from Oman; and Life and Sole: Footwear from the Islamic World. Her final project at the British Museum was the installation of a new ground-breaking permanent gallery, the Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World. At the ROM, Dr Suleman is working on a number of research projects including a multi-disciplinary exhibition about the Indian Ocean and an investigation of food and hospitality cultures of the Middle East through material culture. She is also collaborating on an ongoing field research project with colleagues at the British Museum and the National Museum of Oman on the tradition of female silversmithing in Dhofar, Southern Oman, which will result in a forthcoming exhibition at the British Museum. 

Teaching & fostering innovation

Fahmida is cross-appointed as Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Near and Middle East Civilizations and the Department of Art History. She teaches undergraduate level courses on curating the material culture of the Islamic world in galleries and exhibitions and Islamic iconography. She is also a founding co-chair of the Islamic Art and Material Culture Collaborative (IAMCC), a 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. The aim of the IAMCC is to foster innovative and interdisciplinary research on Islamic art and material culture, support an annual junior and senior fellowship program, host monthly talks and research seminars and present a high-profile annual visiting lecture.

About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work.

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

Free and open to the public  |  Seating is limited (500 Zoom connections) |  Visit our online events calendar at