This remarkable museum houses the private collection of Tareq Sayed Rajad, a Kuwaiti national with a passion for art, history, archaeology and, of course, calligraphy.
Rajad’s collection was first opened as a museum in 1980, but suffered a setback in August 1990 when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. Fearing destruction, the museum staff packed up each item in the collection and hid the boxes in a secluded place that was eventually blocked off. Not all the items in the museum could be rescued, but in spite of this, the museum reopened again in 1991. A little over a decade later, Rajad decided to open a museum entirely dedicated to Islamic calligraphy.
The Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Calligraphy consists of two sections, one dedicated to manuscripts, miniatures, pottery, metalwork, and carvings, and the other to clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, and other items. Given the size of the collection, it is difficult to single out individual items. But among the most prized artifacts on display are an extremely rare folio with Hijazi script from the 7th century and manuscripts by Yaqut al-Musta’simi, a famous 12th-century calligrapher.
The museum doesn’t only focus on pieces with historical value, however. Islamic calligraphy is about creating a harmonious work of art that expresses feelings, traditions, and aesthetics. These themes can be seen displayed throughout the collection, on different media, influenced by different cultures, and ultimately imbued with the aesthetic sensibility and mastery of the artist.
Know Before You Go
The museum is located on Street 1 in Jabriya, about 5.5 miles (9 km) southeast of Kuwait City.