Description of Holdings

Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG)

The YUAG holds extensive objects from the Islamic Middle East and North Africa. With particular strengths in textiles and ceramics, the YUAG also holds many manuscript paintings from early modern Iran and India. The photography department holds a moderate collection of orientalist photography, as well as works by contemporary photographers like Shirin Neshat and Fazal Sheikh. The Modern and Contemporary department holds a selection of works from Middle Eastern diaspora artists, and these holdings are slated to expand as the YUAG aims to widen its global coverage. The collection also includes historical documentation from the archaeological expeditions made in Dura Europos (modern day Syria) and Gerasa (Jordan) in the 1920s and 1930s. 

Yale Center for British Art (YCBA)

The YCBA features the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. Included among the vast holdings in paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, rare books, and manuscripts are more than one thousand objects that document British travels through the Middle East and North Africa. While often marginalized as simply Orientalist, these objects, despite the imperialistic views of many of their makers, still present excellent primary source material on the 18th- and 19th- century Middle East. 

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library 

One of the most renowned rare book and manuscript collections in the Western Hampshire, Beinecke holds extensive and diverse resources in the Middle East, from Shahnama manuscripts from Safavid Iran to photographs of F.T. Marinetti on his visit to Egypt in 1937. Additional material includes calligraphy primers, ketubahs, Qurans and medieval cartographic works.  Moreover, Beinecke just acquired (but has not yet catalogued) the Carney photography collection of Orientalist 19th century photography, which even includes some early 20th-century documentary film footage of Egypt and the Levant. Once catalogued and digitized, this will be a highlight of the collection.

Cushing/Whitney Medical Library 

The Cushing/Whitney Medical Library holds rare medical manuscripts from around the world, including many from the Middle East. There are 26 fully digitized Persian and Arabic volumes available through AMEEL. These illustrated volumes will be a unique addition to the collection as they are, like the Peabody objects, not primarily categorized as art works, but rather entered Yale’s collection through the medical school.

Sterling Memorial Library

The Middle East collection at Sterling offers visual resources in Middle Eastern books and periodicals published throughout the Middle East in Persian, Arabic, and Turkish. Ranging from Qur’an manuscripts to Arabic movie posters, this is probably the largest and least well-documented of all the collections because the majority of the visual material is embedded within textual sources. Many of these sources are already digitized through the AMEEL system

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Included among the Peabody’s vast natural history collection are a small subset of objects from the Islamic world, mostly discovered through archeological digs. Including some interesting examples of medieval and early modern Persianate ceramics, these objects will be particularly interesting within the VR for their diverse provenance and categorization as artifacts instead of art objects. 

Lewis Walpole Library

Housed in a farmhouse in Farmington, CT, the Lewis Walpole Library is a comprehensive collection of books and manuscripts related to 18th century Britain. Included among these, are a group of representations of the Middle East as imagined in British prints. Highlights include famed caricaturist James GIllray’s “Intercepted Drawings” which satirize Napoleon’s “savants” and their documenting of Egypt during the 1798 military campaign. 

Additional Yale Resources on Artstor

1. YUAG Dura Europos Collection on artstor

2. YUAG Gerasa Collection on Artstor