Navina Najat Haidar has been working on the Islamic galleries of The Metropolitan Museum for the past eight years, although the official name over the entrance is the "Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia." Whew! Despite this mouthful, the response to the opening has been overwhelmingly positive. Holland Cotter at The New York Times remarked, "If we could ask for only one lesson learned from the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks, surely freedom from essentialist thinking would be the necessary one. That's the direction the Met's new galleries take us this fall." Peter Schjeldahl at The New Yorker gushed, "Beauty rolls in waves and seethes in eddies throughout the installations of dazzling ceramics, noble architectural fragments and statuary, fabulous carpets..."
With praise from such venerable sources, it's no wonder Dodie Kazanjian at Vogue decided to interview Haidar about the new gallery. "This is what the Islamic aesthetic experience is about -- a noble, austere beauty," says the talented fortysomething curator.