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Nearly 30 TAASA members and friends from Victoria and NSW participated in a tour of the Islamic Museum of Australia, the first museum of its kind in Australia, which opened in March 2014 at Thornbury in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
While largely an educational rather than a collecting institution, the museum showcases a diverse range of Islamic arts including architecture, calligraphy, paintings, glass, ceramics and textiles. It also promotes Islamic artists, local and international. Several galleries showcase Australian Moslem history, starting with the visits by Indonesian fisherman in the early 18th century, followed in the 19th century by men from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan known collectively as the Afghans or Ghans, who as expert camel handlers were important in the building of a new nation.
Nur Shkembi, the Museum’s Arts Director and Exhibitions Manager, who led the tour, was knowledgeable and engaging. Prior to the tour we had a delicious Middle Eastern banquet at Samira’s café at the museum’s premises. The café is operated by Samira El Khafir, a former finalist in Masterchef.