Situated amid the leafy surroundings of central Kuala Lumpur’s Lake Gardens, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia occupies a large area of 30,000 square metres.
Inaugurated in 1998, IAMM currently houses more than 10,000 artefacts, as well as an exceptional collection of Islamic art books at the Scholar's Library. The art-objects on display range from the tiniest pieces of jewellery to one of the world’s largest scale models of the Masjid al-Haram, or the Sacred Mosque, in Mecca.
The Museum aims to create a collection that is truly representative of the Islamic world. Instead of concentrating on works from the heartlands of Persia and the Middle East, IAMM also puts the emphasis on Asia. China and Southeast Asia are especially well represented. The third component of the Malaysian melting pot is India, which is also given special status. India, China and the Malay World are in an exceptional category. Other parts of the collection are displayed according to type rather than geographical origins in the Museum’s 12 galleries.
The architectural style of the museum building is modern, with an Islamic feel created by the details rather than by the structure itself. Iranian tile workers transformed the iwan-style entrance into a ceramic tapestry that frames a welcoming verse from sura al-Ankabut ('the Spider') of the Qur’an. On the roof, these artisans turned the dome-construction traditions of Central Asia into the building’s crowning glory. The turquoise-coloured domes are now a landmark on the Kuala Lumpur skyline.
Inside the building, the angularity of 21st-century design is contrasted with the soft, rounded forms of the five domes that dominate the museum’s interior. Laboured over by craftsmen from Uzbekistan, these imposing features help form an ambience that is both airy and harmonious. The seamless continuity of light and space is maintained throughout the galleries and into other areas of the museum, such as the Scholar's Library and the MOZA Restaurant.