Islamic Art

The O’Donnell Institute and the Dallas Museum of Art form a center for research and education in Islamic art.

Left: Inkwell, Iran: late 12th century; Right: Bowl, Egypt: Cairo, 11th–12th century Top: Inkwell, Iran: late 12th century; Bottom: Bowl, Egypt: Cairo, 11th–12th century The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art

In an initiative founded by Sabiha al Khemir, the study of Islamic art at the O’Donnell Institute focuses on artworks held in one of the world’s great private collections of Islamic art: the Keir Collection, now housed at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Keir Collection of Islamic Art at the Dallas Museum of Art

In 2014 the Dallas Museum of Art received a long-term loan of one of the world’s largest private holdings of Islamic art, transforming the Museum’s Islamic art collection into the third largest of its kind in North America.

Assembled over the course of five decades by the noted art collector Edmund de Unger (1918–2011), the Keir Collection is recognized by scholars as one of the world’s most geographically and historically comprehensive, encompassing almost 2,000 works in a range of media that span thirteen centuries of Islamic art-making.

The Keir Collection of Islamic Art

Spirit and Matter


Persian tile from the 13th century

The Keir Collection of Islamic Art on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art


Intersections: Visual Cultures of Islamic Cosmopolitanism

In partnership with the Aga Khan Council and the Islamic Art Revival Series, the O’Donnell Institute will convene an international, interdisciplinary conference dedicated to the arts of various media (architecture, painting, textiles, calligraphy, photography, and performance) born of contact between Islamic and non-Islamic societies. The conference will be held May 4 and 5, 2018 in Dallas and will be open to the public. Details are forthcoming.

Upcoming Courses

In Spring 2018, Dr. Melia Belli-Bose will teach an undergraduate Honors College course on Islamic art, drawing on the Keir Collection of Islamic Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.


Artisthinktive Iran: A Forum for Distinctive Thinking on Iranian Arts


Artisthinktive Iran: A Forum for Distinctive Thinking on Iranian Arts is a forum for contemporary Iranian art. Its goal is to explore how Iranian artists contribute to a broad range of artistic forms, with special focus on how Iran’s contemporary socio-political landscape and cultural heritage contribute to the formation of artistic expression.

Fatemeh Tashakori is  the producer and host of  Artisthinktive Iran. She is a doctoral student in Aesthetic Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, and a Graduate Fellow at the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. She received her Master’s degree in Philosophy of Art from Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran. Her wide-ranging interests include the relationship between philosophy and the arts, the philosophy of space and time in Islamic Art, comparative studies between Western and Islamic artistic traditions, and contemporary Iranian art.

Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir, Senior Advisor for Islamic Art at the Dallas Museum of Art and Distinguished Scholar of Islamic Art in Residence at the O’Donnell Institute
Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Sabiha Al Khemir, Senior Advisor for Islamic Art, Dallas Museum of Art
Distinguished Scholar of Islamic Art in Residence, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, The University of Texas at Dallas