Sharjah Ruler inaugurates ‘Chapters of Islamic Art: Ettinghausen’s Private Collection of Rare Books’ exhibition at House of Wisdom

Sharjah Ruler inaugurates ‘Chapters of Islamic Art: Ettinghausen’s Private Collection of Rare Books’ exhibition at House of Wisdom

A fascinating showcase of 98 of the rarest books from the private library of renowned German historians, Richard and Elizabeth Ettinghausen  

Sharjah, 08 December 2021

HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated today (Wednesday) the ‘Chapters of Islamic Art: Ettinghausen’s Private Collection of Rare Books’ at the House of Wisdom, Sharjah.

The exhibition features a fascinating collection of 98 of the rarest and oldest books from the private library of Dr. Richard Ettinghausen and his wife Dr. Elizabeth Ettinghausen – two of the world’s leading historians and scholars from Germany who specialised in Islamic history and art.

The exhibition’s 98 publications are a part of Ettinghausen’s entire private collection of 12,000 books, which was gifted by the Sharjah Ruler to House of Wisdom earlier in August. This includes valuable publications on the region’s art and architecture, many of which are more than 200 years old, and other titles spanning archaeology, travel, history, geography, religion, literature, poetry, palaeography, and more. These books are written in 10 languages including Arabic, English, German, Persian, Japanese, Urdu, French, Spanish, Turkish, Russian, and Italian.

His Highness tours the landmark exhibition

HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi toured the exhibition, whose offerings of books and artefacts are classified into six zones: Books published or edited by Dr. Ettinghausen; Books on archaeology, travel, history and geography; Books on religion and Islamic art and architecture; Oversized books on various subjects; Books on literature and poetry, manuscripts and Illuminations, palaeography and petroglyphs; and finally, Islamic ceramics, metalworks, textiles, carpets and rugs.

HH Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi also viewed the remaining books from the collection displayed in House of Wisdom’s ‘Wisdom Vault’ – a high-security space that is temperature-, humidity- and light-controlled to create a conducive environment for the preservation and safe keeping of old manuscripts and high-value books. 

During the tour, His Highness was briefed on House of Wisdom’s plans to make the entire collection accessible online to students, readers, researchers, scholars and historians worldwide. This follows the iconic social hub’s vision to go beyond the limits of place to benefit people wherever they are, and seeks to fulfil the Sharjah Ruler’s vision to make valuable knowledge in sciences, culture history and other fields accessible to all. 

Starting with the 98 books that are part of this exhibition, the House of Wisdom team will continue working to include the remaining 11,902 books to their library’s rich digital repository.

The exhibition was unveiled in the presence of Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA); Sheikh Salem Khalid Al Qassimi ,UAE’s Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO); HE Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth; Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO;  Abdullah Al Owais, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Culture (SDC); Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage and Marwa Al Aqroubi, Director of House of Wisdom.


Attached Photos:

1-6. HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council Ruler of Sharjah during the innaugration of Chapters of Islamic Art exhibition at House of Wisdom

7. Link to additional photos and video:


The House of Wisdom is Sharjah’s new iconic library and cultural centre. It was commissioned in honour of Sharjah winning the esteemed UNESCO World Book Capital title for the year 2019. Opening its doors on 9 December 2020, House of Wisdom has since then been offering visitors, students, academic, and businesses a wide array of smart and adaptive facilities, as well as enriching activities and events.


Dr. Richard Ettinghausen (1906 – 1979) was a researcher and scholar, curator, professor and author and is considered to be one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic art. With exacting connoisseurship, he analysed each object rigorously under the microscope of their religious, historical, literal and cultural context to capture the essence of the work of art. His path-breaking methods of analysing and studying Islamic art chartered new directions and possibilities for the field. During his time, Dr Ettinghausen influenced and encouraged many to study and publish works on Islamic arts. His wife, Dr Elizabeth Ettinghausen, was an expert and specialist in Islamic textile and oral arts in the Arab and Islamic world.

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