The Caixa Forum has some important exhibitions every year and it is always a pleasure to wander around the old converted textile factory with its impressive brick and metal work. At the moment there is a collection built up by the Aga Khan over several decades of Muslim art over a thousand year period when they dominated most of the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East.
From Cordova, Spain to India and Iran the trade and pilgrimage routes brought ideas, literature, music and science to all corners of the muslim world. Interesting to note that they were the most progressive in seeking and incorporating influences from other cultures in marked contrast to our perception of Islam currently.
In this collection we can see the influences of the Chinese on pottery design, glass and ceramic design from Iran, building and architecture from India and of course the beautifully illustrated manuscripts of the Qur'an.
The varieties and different techniques used reflect the values of tolerance and pluralism which were such an important part of Muslim life. They welcomed ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity and any country or empire throughout history that has done that usually blossoms and prospers to the detriment of other areas.
Well worth a visit before the collection is put on permanent display in Toronto, Canada.