The Met’s ‘Heirloom Project’ Pays Homage to Its Islamic Wing

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has unveiled “The Heirloom Project,” showcasing more than 20 global artisanal brands whose designs are inspired by pieces and collections in the museum, especially in its reimagined Islamic Wing.

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The project came about in 2021 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Met’s Islamic Wing, and was postponed to this year due to the pandemic, says Stephen Mannello, head of retail and general merchandise at the Met.

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“During the pandemic, lots of artisans were in need of work,” he says. “The beauty of the project is that it provides employment, income, and a sense of security to many of those artisans, who are often women. Of course, it also supports the museum and serves its customers.”

Participating artisanal brands were selected and screened by Mannello and the project’s creative director, Madeline Weinrib, a painter-turned-home designer based in New York.

A pair of earrings by Munnu Gem Palace

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Courtesy of The Heirloom Project

They include Turquoise Mountain from Afghanistan; Malaika from Egypt; D’Ascoli, Good Earth, Hanut, Kashmir Loom, and Munnu the Gem Palace from India; Orient 499 from Lebanon; Al Nour, Beatriz Belfrage, and Made in Tangier from Morocco; Fy-Shan Glass Studio, Mehry Mu, Monapetra, and Selamlique from Turkey, as well as contemporary jewelry by Silvia Furmanovich from Brazil.

“The diverse makers and artisans we have partnered with draw on centuries of design inspiration from The Met collection, while embracing their own cultures and traditions,” Mannello says.

A variety of home goods, accessories, and decorative arts will be featured at the Met Store and its e-commerce platform, including jewelry, textiles, linens, towels, pillows, scarves, ceramic vases, and candle sticks. Most pieces are priced under $150.

“We are appreciative of the artisans working closely with us to bring these unique, exceptional pieces to our visitors and guests,” Mannello says. “They showcase the most beautiful craftsmanship, artisanship, and packaging.”

Mannello’s personal favorites include the dinnerware and textiles with a poppy motif from Good Earth, and three designs from Fy-Shan Glass Studio, which draw direct inspirations from items in the Islamic Wing, he says.

While the Met’s collection of Islamic art dates to 1874, its department of Islamic Art wasn’t established until 1963.

In 2011, the museum opened 15 new galleries for Islamic art after a major renovation. The Islamic Wing currently holds more than 15,000 objects.

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