Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan

March 5, 2016–January 29, 2017
Sackler sublevel 3

From its critical position on the ancient Silk Road that stretches from Europe to China, Afghanistan absorbed traditions from India, Persia, and Central Asia and blended them into a distinct artistic culture. Decades of civil unrest that began in the 1970s nearly destroyed this vital heritage.  Many of Afghanistan’s artisans were forced to leave their country or give up their craft. The old city of Kabul, once a bustling center of craft and commerce, fell into ruin.

The British non-governmental organization Turquoise Mountain, founded in 2006 at the request of HRH The Prince of Wales and the President of Afghanistan, has transformed the Murad Khani district of Old Kabul from slum conditions into a vibrant cultural and economic center. The organization has renovated historic buildings, opened a primary school and a medical clinic, and rebuilt necessary infrastructure. It has founded Afghanistan’s premier institution for vocational training in the arts. Dedicated to teaching a new generation of Afghan artisans in woodwork, calligraphy, ceramics, jewelry design, and other crafts, Turquoise Mountain is reviving the nation’s proud cultural legacy.

To tell this transformative story of culture and heritage in Murad Khani, Afghan woodworkers have created magnificent wood arcades, screens, and a pavilion, all carved by hand from Himalayan cedar. Wander among these arcades and explore spectacular contemporary carpets, jewelry, and calligraphy, all complemented by videos and large-scale photographs of the Afghan artisans who made them. Artisans from Murad Khani are bringing the exhibition to life by demonstrating their art, sharing their experiences, and allowing visitors to encounter Afghanistan’s art and culture firsthand.

“The show is bringing a little piece of Kabul’s old city to Washington in the form of an 8,000-square-foot courtyard. ” –Washington Post Express

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Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Turquoise Mountain Trust. The exhibition is made possible by the support the American people have given to Turquoise Mountain through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Additional exhibition support is provided by a grant from the United States Institute of Peace.

Turquoise Mountain thanks HRH Prince Al Waleed bin Talal and Alwaleed Philanthropies for their long-term support of this project.


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Additional exhibition support is provided by Dame Jillian Sackler, DBE, Justin and Hilarie Huscher, the Dr. Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, and other generous benefactors.

 


We are excited to reopen the Freer on October 7, 2017, following a renovation to allow us to better present our art and serve our visitors.
The Sackler remains open, with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around DC.