Located in Kuwait, the Tareq Rajab Museum consists of over 30,000 items that have been collected over the past 50 years, with many of them dating back to over 250 years ago. The museum itself was founded by a couple who were passionate about history, culture and folklore around Asia, and who wanted a way to share this with the public.
The History of the Museum
The Tareq Rajab Museum was founded by husband and wife Tareq Sayed Rajab and Jehan Wellborne. Jehan was extremely passionate about learning about the history and life of other cultures, especially when it came to folklore and traditional topics. After the couple married, they travelled all over the Islamic world and beyond, including South East Asia and the Far East, collecting artefacts and taking photos that they knew would be right at home in a museum. While it took them many years to collect everything, they were finally able to open their museum to the public in 1980.
The Museum’s Collection
The Tareq Rajab Museum is home to quite a varied collection of artefacts, ranging from embroidered costumes to Tibetan jewelry. Jewelry and traditional dress are quite a focal point within the collection, especially when it comes to Silver Folk jewelry, as the museum owns 10,000 pieces of this, although only 2000 are on display at one time. The Gold Room in particular is a fascinating one, as this traces gold jewelry and ornaments all the way from the pre-Islamic period. When it comes to the costumes and clothing, the Tareq Rajab Museum boasts one of the largest collections of these in the Arab world, but there is also a small collection of Chinese costumes and embroideries that are worth looking at, especially the rarer pieces from the 17th century. There are also a number of musical instruments on display here, and these come from various gulf countries, as well as Afghanistan, Tibet and Kashmir. For those who want to learn about the museum’s collection in more depth, pay a visit to the on-site library, where you will find a number of reference books and documents.
The Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Art and Calligraphy
The original Tareq Rajab Museum collection was quite a small one, but this continued to grow over the years. This soon led the couple to expand their museum by adding in two additional buildings, one of which is now called the Tareq Rajab Museum of Islamic Art and Calligraphy. As you can tell from its name, this museum places a strong emphasis on Islamic calligraphy, with several rare and important Arabic manuscripts to be found here. The second museum addition is the Dar al Cid, which is also run by the couple, and contains quite a diverse selection of art exhibits.
Although there is no signage that marks the entrance to the museum, you will no doubt immediately notice its carved wooden doorway as soon as you see it. Try to allow yourself at least an hour to tour the museum, although if you have a particular interest in textiles and jewelry, you are likely going to want to spend much more time here.