October 24, 2013
Massumeh Farhad is Chief Curator and Curator of Islamic Art at the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, at the Smithsonian Institution. She brought her expertise to a discussion of the exhibition Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art. Her talk, “From Mecca to Shangri La: Islamic Art in Context,” focused on the Islamic textiles, ceramics, jewelry, furniture and architectural elements that Doris Duke handpicked for her sprawling, oceanfront estate in Honolulu. Since 1995, Farhad has curated many exhibitions on Islamic art, including Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey
(2005–2006), Tsars and the East: Gifts from Turkey and Iran in the Moscow Kremlin
(2009), and Falnama: The Book of Omens
(2009). She has also written extensively on 17th-century Persian painting. She earned a Ph.D. in art history from Harvard University.
The Annual Semans Lecture was established in 1996 in honor of the late Dr. James H. Semans and Mary D.B.T. Semans. Past speakers include scholar Henry Petroski, architect Rafael Viñoly, artists Art Spiegelman and Fred Wilson, and museum directors Thelma Golden and Thomas Krens.
Massumeh Farhad, chief curator at the Smithsonian, visits Doris Duke’s Shangri La with Nasher Museum Director Sarah Schroth before delivering the Annual Semans Lecture. Before she delivers the Annual Rothschild Lecture. Photo by J Caldwell.