A l’Orientale – Collecting, Displaying and Appropriating Islamic Art and Architecture in the 19th and early 20th centuries
Zurich and Schaffhausen, May 4 – 6, 2017
Deadline: Sep 25, 2016
Organizers: Prof. Dr. Francine Giese (University of Zurich),
Prof. Dr. Mercedes Volait (CNRS/InVisu),
Dr. Ariane Varela Braga (University of Zurich)
Cooperations: Museum Rietberg Zürich, Moser Familienmuseum
Charlottenfels der Heinrich und Henri Moser Stiftung in Neuhausen bei Schaffhausen
Kjeld v. Folsach (David’s Collection Kopenhagen),
Yannick Lintz (Musée du Louvre), Tim Stanley (V&A London),
Stefan Weber (Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin)
The Swiss Orient traveler Henri Moser Charlottenfels (1844-1923) is considered one of the pioneering 19th-century amateurs of Islamic Art, because of his activity as collector and exhibitor. His continuously growing collection had made Moser famous from 1876 onwards through much-noticed traveling exhibitions in and outside of Switzerland. His collection was later displayed permanently at the widely known private museum he established in 1906 at the Charlottenfels Castle near Schaffhausen. Through his 1914 donation to the Bern Historical Museum, Moser assured that after his disappearance the Orientalische Sammlung Henri Moser Charlottenfels (Oriental collection Henri Moser Charlottenfels) of over 4000 objects would remain available to the public in an exhibition hall specially built for that purpose.
The conference wants to present Henri Moser and his collection in an international context. Does Moser’s activity of collecting and
exhibiting Islamic art reflect a widespread tendency of his period? How have strategies of presentation, re-contextualisation and didactics
changed since the 19th century? To what extent have private collections influenced the making of Islamic departments in national museums? And
which role did private collectors such as Moser play in transmitting and appropriating Islamic art and architecture in the West during the
19th and early 20th century?
The conference will open on Thursday, 4th May 2017, with a first section on „Displaying Islamic Art“ at the Museum Rietberg, with a roundtable discussion with representatives of the most important European collections of Islamic Art. The second day will take place at the University of Zurich and will be dedicated to the section „Appropriating Islamic Art and Architecture“. Finally, a third section regarding „Collecting Islamic Art“, taking place on Saturday, 6th May 2017, will bring the topic to a close in Charlottenfels Castle.
We invite you to propose papers on the following topics:
– Moser and his collection
– Islamic art in European private collections in the 19th and early 20th centuries
– Mapping and classifying Islamic art through collections
– From Wunderkammer to modern exhibition – ways of presenting Islamic art
– Transmission of Islamic aesthetics through art exhibitions
– Strategies of appropriation in the West
– Neo-Islamic declinations of Islamic art and architecture
Each presentation will be of 20 minutes, and may be given in French, English or German. Please submit a proposal of maximum 300 words and a
brief curriculum vitae by the 25th of September 2016 to the following e-mail address: conference@
In the last chapter of L’architecture au futur depuis 1889, Jean-Louis Cohen listed several “vanishing points” that, although barely visible in the distance, would allow architecture to escape the unrelenting aspiration for originality, newness, monumentality,...