Islamic Art & Culture: A Guide to Shangri La Museum
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. What is Shangri La Museum?
  2. Overview of Islamic Art & Culture
  3. How to visit Shangri La Museum
  4. Highlight artifacts of Shangri La Museum
  5. Understanding the architecture of Shangri La Museum
  6. Exploring the gardens of Shangri La Museum
  7. Educational programs at Shangri La Museum
  8. Events and exhibitions at Shangri La Museum
  9. Why Shangri La Museum matters

If you have a passion for art, culture, and history, there's a place that's sure to stir your curiosity: the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design. This unique museum offers an intimate look at Islamic art and culture, all in a breathtaking Hawaiian setting. Let's explore this captivating place together!

What is Shangri La Museum?

The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design is more than just a museum—it's a celebration of Islamic art. Built in the 1930s by philanthropist Doris Duke, Shangri La was her residence turned museum. It showcases an impressive collection of Islamic art, with over 2,500 objects spanning 1,400 years.

Shangri La is nestled in Honolulu, Hawaii. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, it gives you the chance to explore Islamic art and culture in a location you might not expect.

Here's what you can expect at the Shangri La Museum:

  • Artifacts from regions including North Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South Asia
  • Unique architecture that blends Islamic design with Hawaiian elements
  • Stunning gardens inspired by Islamic paradise gardens
  • Engaging educational programs and special exhibitions

In short, the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design is a treasure trove of Islamic art and a testament to Duke's vision. It's a place that invites you to learn, explore, and enjoy the beauty of Islamic culture. So, are you ready to step into this world of art and beauty?

Overview of Islamic Art & Culture

Islamic art and culture is an intricate web that reflects the diverse histories, traditions, and societies of the Islamic world. It's a rich tapestry that spans over 1,400 years, and it's far from monolithic. Islamic art encompasses many regions and cultures, from the Middle East and North Africa to Central and South Asia.

Here are some key aspects of Islamic art that you can get to know at the Shangri La Museum:

  • Calligraphy: This art form is a significant part of Islamic culture. It's the writing of Arabic scripts in a way that's both expressive and decorative. You'll see calligraphy adorned on everything from pottery to architecture.
  • Geometric Patterns: Islamic art is known for its intricate geometric designs. These patterns often have a deeper symbolism, reflecting the infinite nature of God.
  • Miniatures: These are small, detailed paintings that often depict scenes from history, literature, or courtly life. They offer a fascinating glimpse into the past.

Moreover, Islamic culture is more than just its art. It's also about the experiences, traditions, and values that have shaped the Islamic world. At the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design, you'll get the chance to immerse yourself in this vibrant culture. From the music and literature to the food and fashion, there's so much for you to discover. So, are you ready to dive into the rich world of Islamic art and culture?

How to Visit Shangri La Museum

Planning a visit to the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design can be quite an adventure. Here's a quick guide to help you navigate your visit and make the most of your time at this treasure trove of Islamic art and culture.

Getting There: Nestled on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, the Shangri La Museum is a gem waiting to be explored. You can easily reach the museum via public transportation, car, or taxi. Remember, it's always wise to check traffic conditions before setting off to avoid any last-minute hustle.

Timings: The Shangri La Museum is open from Wednesday through Saturday, with guided tours happening throughout the day. It's always best to check their official website for the most current information on timings and closures.

Tickets: You can purchase tickets online through the museum's official website. Do note that ticket sales often close a day before the visit, so make sure to plan ahead.

Touring the Museum: The museum offers guided tours that take you through the various exhibits and areas of the museum. These tours can be a great way to understand the context of the artifacts and to appreciate the beauty of the architecture and gardens.

Tips for Visitors:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. There's a lot to see and you'll be doing a fair bit of walking.
  • Bring a water bottle. It can get quite warm, and staying hydrated is important.
  • Don’t forget your camera. The museum is full of beautiful art and architecture that you'll want to remember.

Visiting the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design can be a deeply enriching experience. It's a place where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of Islamic art and culture, learn something new, and come away with a greater appreciation for the diversity and richness of the Islamic world. So, why wait? Start planning your visit today!

Highlight Artifacts of Shangri La Museum

The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design is home to some truly captivating pieces of Islamic art. Let's take a virtual stroll through some of the most noteworthy ones.

The Bihzad Painting: This painting, believed to be created by the Persian artist Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād, is truly a masterpiece. It's a wonderful example of Persian miniature painting, filled with rich details and vibrant colors.

The Iznik Tiles: Named after the town of Iznik in Turkey where they were made, these tiles are an explosion of color and intricate designs. The museum showcases some of the finest examples of these tiles, which were a significant part of Islamic art in the 16th century.

The Damascus Room: Stepping into the Damascus Room is like stepping into a different time and place. This 19th-century living room from a grand house in Damascus, Syria, is adorned with ornate woodwork and colorful glass, providing a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyles of the past.

The Mughal Garden Carpet: This carpet is a testament to the intricate craftsmanship of the Mughal Empire. The detailed floral and geometric designs make it a standout piece in the museum's collection.

The Mihrab: The Mihrab, a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction of Mecca, is an architectural feature that has been exquisitely showcased at the museum. The museum’s mihrab, with its detailed tilework and calligraphy, is truly a sight to behold.

These are just a handful of the treasures you can discover at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design. Each artifact tells a story of a time, a place, and a culture, waiting for you to explore and appreciate.

Understanding the Architecture of Shangri La Museum

If the artifacts within the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design tell a story, the museum’s architecture is the narrator. Every corner, every detail, and every design element speaks volumes about the Islamic world—its art, culture, and design.

The Main House: The heart of the museum is the Main House. Designed by architect Marion Sims Wyeth, it is an architectural marvel. The design draws inspiration from various regions, including North Africa, Spain, and India, creating a rich tapestry of Islamic architectural styles.

The Playhouse: One of the most interesting features of the museum is the Playhouse, a reduced-scale version of the Chehel Sotoun, a palace in Isfahan, Iran. It's a beautiful example of Iranian Safavid style architecture, complete with an intricate mirror mosaic interior.

The Syrian Room: This room, modeled after a 17th-century Damascene home, is a stunning example of the opulence of Syrian architecture and design. The room features intricate geometric patterns, beautiful inlaid marble, and a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean.

The Pavilions: Scattered across the property, the museum's pavilions are a nod to the traditional Islamic garden. Each one offers a different perspective, a different taste of the Islamic world, all while seamlessly blending into the Hawaiian landscape.

The architecture of the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design is more than just a backdrop for its artifacts—it's an integral part of the museum experience. It invites you to immerse yourself in the Islamic world, to appreciate the nuances of its art and architecture, and to experience the world through a different lens.

Exploring the Gardens of Shangri La Museum

If we've piqued your interest in the architecture of the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design, wait till you step into its gardens. They're not just patches of greenery, but a living, breathing part of the museum, enhancing the Islamic cultural experience.

The Mughal Garden: As you wander through the museum, you'll come across the Mughal Garden. Inspired by the grand gardens of Mughal-era India, it's a serene space filled with lush greenery, beautiful water features, and fragrant flowers. The garden is a testament to the love for nature inherent in Islamic culture and art.

The Hawaiian Garden: While the overall design of the Shangri La Museum is Islamic, it's not isolated from its Hawaiian surroundings. The Hawaiian Garden is a perfect example of this. It embraces the local flora and uses it to create a unique space, one that merges the aesthetics of Islamic and Hawaiian cultures.

The Courtyard: In the heart of the museum is the Courtyard, a space that embodies the Islamic tradition of using courtyards as social spaces. Surrounded by the museum's stunning architecture, it's a place where you can pause, breathe, and soak in the beauty around you.

The Oceanfront: One of the museum's most breathtaking spaces is the Oceanfront. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it's a tranquil oasis that gives you the chance to reflect and connect with nature.

The gardens of the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design are more than just outdoor spaces—they're an integral part of the museum experience, a tangible representation of the harmony between nature and architecture that is so central to Islamic culture.

Educational Programs at Shangri La Museum

Education plays a pivotal role in the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design. The museum is more than just a place to see beautiful artifacts—it's a learning hub where you can deepen your understanding of Islamic cultures.

The Guided Tours: The museum offers guided tours conducted by knowledgeable guides. They provide insightful commentary on the museum's collections, architecture, and gardens, helping you appreciate the nuances of Islamic culture.

The Artists in Residence Program: The museum hosts artists from various parts of the world who bring their unique perspectives on Islamic art and culture. During their residency, these artists hold workshops and discussions, giving you the opportunity to learn directly from the artists.

The School Partnership Program: This initiative connects local schools with the museum. Through tailored tours and hands-on workshops, students get to explore various aspects of Islamic art and culture, fostering an appreciation for diversity from a young age.

The Lecture Series: Throughout the year, the museum organizes lectures by scholars and experts in the field of Islamic art and culture. These lectures offer in-depth knowledge and stimulate thought-provoking discussions.

So, whether you're a student, an art enthusiast, or simply curious, the educational programs at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design are designed to enrich your experience and deepen your understanding of Islamic cultures.

Events and Exhibitions at Shangri La Museum

The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design is a vibrant and dynamic space. It's not just about what's on display in the permanent collection—there's always something new and exciting happening with their diverse range of events and exhibitions.

Special Exhibitions: The museum regularly hosts special exhibitions showcasing various facets of Islamic art. These exhibitions often feature works from contemporary artists, providing fresh perspectives on traditional Islamic themes. It's like opening a new chapter of a book each time you visit!

Performances: The museum is known for its cultural performances that celebrate the rich diversity of Islamic culture. From music concerts to dance performances, you'll experience the rhythm and energy of Islamic traditions in a whole new light.

Workshops: Want to get your hands a bit dirty? These interactive sessions allow visitors to explore Islamic art techniques under the guidance of skilled artists. It's a great way to not just learn about Islamic art, but also to create some yourself!

Festivals: The museum hosts annual festivals which are a cultural feast! These festivals bring together music, food, art, and community—showcasing the vibrancy of Islamic culture.

Remember, the events and exhibitions at the Shangri La Museum are as diverse as the Islamic world itself. They provide a unique lens through which to view and appreciate the richness of Islamic art, culture, and design. And who knows? You might even discover a new interest or hobby!

Why Shangri La Museum Matters

Why does the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design matter? Well, it's simple. This museum plays a crucial role in preserving and promoting the understanding of Islamic art and culture. It's like a bridge connecting different cultures and creating a dialogue of understanding and appreciation.

Preservation: The museum houses a vast collection of Islamic art, including rare and ancient artifacts. These pieces are carefully preserved, protecting an important part of our shared human history. Just think about it—each artifact is like a time capsule, telling us a story from a different time and place.

Education: Through its interactive exhibits and educational programs, the museum helps visitors to understand the richness and diversity of Islamic culture. It's like stepping into a classroom where every object has a fascinating story to tell.

Dialogue: The museum encourages dialogue and understanding between different cultures. It's an open door to explore the Islamic world, fostering connections and breaking down barriers. Wouldn't it be great if we all knew more about each other's cultures?

Inspiration: The elegant designs and intricate patterns in the museum's collection can inspire artists, designers, and even casual visitors. You never know when inspiration will strike—it could be right there, in the middle of the Shangri La Museum!

So, you see, the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art Culture & Design is more than just a museum—it's a place of learning, connection, and inspiration. And that's why it matters.

If you enjoyed exploring the world of Islamic Art & Culture through our guide to Shangri La Museum, consider delving deeper into the topic of cultural representation in art by checking out the workshop 'Culture & How To Include It In Your Work' by Juanjose Mouko Nsue. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights on how to respectfully and creatively incorporate culture into your artistic endeavors.