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Oriental Museum


The Oriental Museum hosts a year round programme of exciting guest exhibitions. Oriental Museum exhibitions explore and engage with the civilizations and cultures of Asia, Egypt, Islamic North Africa, and the Near and Middle East.

HAZEM HARB Invisibility Series #3, 108x90 cm Mixed media on collage on canvas ,2010

Traces and Revelations

4th April 2014 to 5th October 2014 


An exhibition of paintings by internationally renowned, pioneering Palestinian artists, Hazem Harb and Mohammed Joha.

Over the past 10 years, Hazem Harb and Mohammed Joha’s concepts and ideas have encompassed themes of war, loss, trauma, human vulnerability, global instability and placement and displacement. Both artists integrate the question of Palestinian identity into the more universal message of their work.

This exhibition seeks to evoke intense emotions and present an arresting, haunting portrait of a particular place and its multi-layered histories and facts, finding a new way of understanding human protest.

Traces and Revelations opens up an imaginary, parallel space in which to consider ideas of place, identity and belonging.

Shifting Sands

4th April 2014 to 5th October 2014


This is an exhibition of rare and beautiful photographs from Sudan taken by the anthropologist Ian Cunnison. It tells a story of migration, everyday lives and inter-ethnic relationships in late colonial Sudan.

From 1952 to 1955 Cunnison conducted ethnographic research on the Misseriya-Humr, cattle-keeping pastoralists whose annual search for water takes them from the edges of the desert in Kordofan to the lush pastures of Abyei, where Dinka people grow crops and graze their own cattle. Today, Abyei is on the border between Sudan and South Sudan; claimed by both states, its future is uncertain.

These images chronicle Cunnison’s growing understanding of Misseriya culture and throw light on the daily life of a pastoralist community in Sudan at the end of British colonial rule. Through portraits and brief biographies of the people Cunnison got to know, this exhibition explores relationships - both within the camp and between members of this camp and Dinka communities in Abyei in the 1950s. Shifting Sands tells different stories: one of slavery and disrupted relationships, but also one of interdependence, political negotiation and intermarriage between these two communities. It illustrates a complex history of coercion and cooperation in Sudan and South Sudan’s now bitterly contested borderlands.

This exhibition is supported by The Centre for Visual Arts and Culture.

Reinterpreting the Korean Moon Jar

Hyosun Kim

28 February - 13 July 2014 


An installation by Korean artist Hyosun Kim within the Korean Gallery at the Oriental Museum. 

The moon jar is one of the most iconic forms found in traditional Joseon Dynasty Korean art. The difficulty involved in creating the perfect ‘moon’ shape makes the moon jar a technical as well as an artistic challenge for the ceramic artist. 

In this series of work Hyosun Kim explores how risk taking in the production of moon jars can produce ‘failure’ pieces that are aesthetically pleasing. Three series of jars explore the form, history and making processes. Kim explores the creative potential for taking risks during the making process and engages with the ways that technical problems in the making might lead to ‘failures’ that can be harnessed artistically to create works of great beauty.

The copper plates from Kollam: using a 9th century legal document to explore the medieval Indian Ocean World

6th January to 27th April 2014

This exhibition focuses on a set of copper plates which are a multi-lingual legal document, inscribed at the port of Kollam in present-day Kerala in 849 CE. In South Asia, even until very recently, legal documents were inscribed onto copper sheets. Known as copper plate grants, these are one of the main sources for early and medieval Indian history. Although the Kollam plates have been known to European scholars since the early 19th century, they are so complex to read that they had never previously been studied as a single document. This interdisciplinary project undertook the first holistic study of this exceptional source, using it as a starting point for exploring the medieval Indian Ocean world.

The exhibition is touring around a number of universities in the UK, US and India. The exhibition consists of four pop-up banners and a leaflet that visitors can take away with them.


Image: Three of the 9th century copper plates from Kollam. Photograph of the plates reproduced courtesy of M. Raghava Varier and Kesavan Veluthat with kind permission of His Grace the Most Reverend Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, and His Holiness Basileus Marthoma Paulose II Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church