The Background of the Collaboration between the Arab World Institute and the National Museum Foundation

It was in Paris, at the Arab World Institute, that the IMA (the Arab World Institute) and the FNM (National Museum Foundation), in a way, renewed their commitments, as the partnership agreement made between the two institutions is not a first.

In fact, their collaboration began as soon as the National Foundation of Museums in Morocco was set up, and at the same time gave rise to the “Contemporary Morocco” exhibition organized at the IMA a few months later, in January 2015.

However, the new version of this convention includes some very interesting additions for the world of arts and culture, both in Morocco and France.

Starting with the extension of the exhibition “Treasures of Islam in Africa, from Timbuktu to Zanzibar”, which is currently being held at the Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat. Mehdi Qotbi tells us that “this one will be extended until February 2020!”

Organized with the help of the Ministry of Culture, the Academy of the Kingdom, the IMA and the FNM, this exhibition was first held in 2017 at the IMA, “where it was a resounding success, with impressive queues of visitors who came to discover this Islam of tolerance,” recalls Mehdi Qotbi. Thus, thanks to the JAI, which “made requests to collectors,” explains Qotbi, “we obtained their agreement to extend the loan of works”.

In addition to the extension of this major exhibition, the partnership with the IMA aims to establish “an even closer collaboration” between the two institutions.

“The IMA has nearly 1,500 works collected since its creation and is willing to lend us works by Arab painters who are not known in our country. These loans will enable us to exhibit them in Rabat, to take them on a journey through Morocco and perhaps even the Maghreb,” explains Mehdi Qotbi.

But what about the choice of works and the theme of the exhibitions organized in Morocco? Will the FNM have free rein to decide on its own exhibitions if they include works belonging to the IMA?

“The advantage of the IMA is that we are allowed to choose our own themes, because after all, who knows the Moroccan public better than we do? It will therefore be up to us to adapt the choice of works to the Moroccan public in order to help them discover contemporary Arab painting,” reassures Mehdi Qotbi.

Finally, the last part of this agreement, that of training, with “a broadening of this part in perspective,” announces the president of the FNM.

“The FNM, through its museum directors, collections and that of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Mohammed VI, has acquired a certain professionalism. Its directors now want to share their expertise with North Africans and Africans. Many French-speaking and English-speaking countries come to us, Morocco, to reflect on different avenues to explore in order to make Morocco a training hub for African and North African countries. The respective teams of the IMA and the FNM are working together to make this idea a reality.”

The agreement will be signed in front of Emmanuel Macron in Morocco, during his visit at the beginning of the year 2020. It will then be supplemented with all the possibilities of collaboration that are emerging between the two institutions and will also list the various areas of cooperation between the IMA and the FNM.

As for example, why not, a Moroccan exhibition organized at the IMA, but which once is not customary, would have Morocco as its starting point.

For Mehdi Qotbi, who is finishing the year 2019 on the resounding success of the Rabat Biennale, which has succeeded in attracting nearly 140,000 visitors, the time has come for projects and good decisions.

“Moroccans have found their way to museums, that’s the most comforting thing,” he concludes.

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