Australia’s very first Islamic art museum, the ‘Islamic Museum of Australia’ is set toopen its doors to the public on Monday 3rd March, promising to take visitors on an interactive journey through the arts, history, culture and the stories of everyday Australian Muslims.
Encompassing five permanent galleries, a host of international and local visiting exhibitions, a café, educational resources for schools, a large multifunction centre and theatrette, the Islamic Museum of Australia aims to promote harmony and a mutual understanding between cultures and faiths.
The museum is a not-for-profit organisation with an objective to share the rich artistic heritage of Muslims in Australia, by shining a light on the many contributions Muslims have made to culture and civilization throughout time.
For example, it is a little known fact that Muslims first came into contact with Australia in the 1700s when the Macassan Fisherman traded peacefully with the Aboriginals many decades before European settlement.
Then later in the 19th century, Cameleers arrived in Australia to help build some of Australia’s largest infrastructure projects such as The Ghan, which was named in honour of the Afghani workers – among those from other Islamic countries - who toiled on the project.
Former Masterchef contestant and popular personality, Samira El Khafir will operate the museum’s café, called ‘Modern Middle Eastern.’ The café will serve Samira’s signature Australian-Middle Eastern fusion flavours for breakfast and lunch daily.
Located in Thornbury on the banks of the scenic Merri Creek trail in Melbourne’s north, visitors will be able to access the museum via either the main entrance or the Merri Creek trail, which also provides access to other cultural and environmental icons such as CERES and the Strettle Wetlands further north.
The building itself has been designed by Desypher architects, using a unique melding of Middle Eastern and Australian design techniques that reflect both the traditional principles of Islamic architecture and the surrounding environment.
The concept for Australia’s first Islamic Museum was formed in 2010 by former corporate banker, Moustafa Fahour.
“ We were discussing the importance of education and its role in providing a better understanding of Islam and showcasing the contributions of Muslims to Australia and abroad.
“ I soon met with a number of community organisations to discuss cross-cultural unity and education and it became clear that one of the most effective ways to enhance cultural diversity and social cohesion was through art.
“ I realised there was nowhere in Australia for people of all faiths to learn more about Islam in a non-intrusive way. There was nowhere for school children to learn about the rich artistic heritage of Muslims in a fun, interactive, yet educational way, so we decided to do something about it and the concept of the Islamic Museum of Australia was born,” he says.
At the time Moustafa was just 29 years of age and the Division Director, Key Clients, Australia and New Zealand at Macquarie Bank.
Now, some four years later, and with the support of all levels of Government, community, industry bodies and large-scale international and Australian corporations including Habtoor Leighton Group, Etihad, ANZ and more, Moustafa’s vision for the museum is now a reality.
“ One of the most effective ways to promote cultural diversity and social cohesion is via the universal language of the Arts and education, which is why we have chosen to launch the museum with such a strong influence on education and cultural awareness.
“ Victoria has been home to a Chinese, Jewish and Greek museum for many years so the time is right to reflect Australia’s rich cultural diversity with the addition of an Islamic Museum,” he said.
The museum will open its doors on Monday 3rd March at 10am. Opening hours are Monday to Thursday from 10am – 4pm and Friday from 10am – 9pm.
The museum is located at 15A Anderson Road, Thornbury Victoria 3071.
For more information on the Islamic Museum of Australia please visit About Us, Contact Us or call 1300 915 171
Help be a part of the Construction of the First Islamic Museum in Australia. Every little bit counts to make IMA possible Support Us!