Since the recent announcement of the travel ban here in the United States, a number of museums in New York City have found several ways to show dissent or show solidarity with people from the seven countries affected by the ban. For example, the Museum of Modern Art has a special exhibition of art by Muslim artists from the countries included in the travel ban. The Museum of the City of New York has focused on curating images of activism in the city, such as the use of the #activistny hashtag on Instagram, as part of an ongoing exhibition titled Activist New York. MCNY also has a new photography exhibition opening soon titled Muslim in New York.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a rich collection of art from Muslim countries, as well as other art from the ancient world that comes from the countries included in the ban. The Met programming has been more subtle than other NYC museums in this respect, but there is always great art on display from the ancient Middle East and historical Islamic world. And the museum regularly offers a tour of those galleries called Arts of the Islamic World.
Today, I thought I would take you on a tour of one of my favorite galleries in this part of the museum, Gallery 401. This gallery present carved stone reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled over the Assyrian empire (located in modern-day Iraq) from 883 to 859 B.C. Although the reliefs from a variety of locations within the palace originally, they are displayed as a single reception room with a high ceiling.
The first thing you are likely to notice as you enter the room are the statues on either side of the entrance – a winged bull and a winged lion, each with human heads.
There are also some magnificent reliefs along the other walls of the room. Here is just a sample of what you will see.
Although this isn’t a great photo of the reliefs, I thought the view of the group tour would give a better sense of the size of the room and the art.
If you get the chance to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I recommend that you explore this gallery in person – it’s worth the visit. The museum is located on Fifth Avenue at East 82nd Street.