“The Dome of the Rock” - Hidden Splendor Unveiled

a traveling exhibition of photographs by Said Nuseibeh

Dome of the Rock exhibit at Willamette University, Salem, Oregon. 1997

It has never been easy to see, study or enjoy details of this early Islamic shrine... until now.

The exhibition "Dome of the Rock" consists of a core portfolio of 56 color images, matted and framed to 22x28-inches, and extending 185 linear feet (60 m). The photographs explore the colorful octagon in its surrounding urban fabric, the interior spatial dynamics, and decorative arts of multiple ages.

Dome of the Rock at dusk with SE Qanatir

The exhibit has previously drawn a diverse audience including architects, art historians, political scientists, and students of Middle Eastern languages and cultures alike. The core exhibition may be enhanced by the addition of images from the artist's deep archive to expand content and dialogue in multiple directions.

Dome of the Rock, full interior view from qibla door Portait of the sacred rock

about the project:
For over thirty years, photographer Said Nuseibeh has devoted time to document the architectural and aesthetic legacy of the Umayyad dynasty (665-749 c.e.). The Dome of the Rock is merely the grandest and most well-preserved contribution of this fertile and formative period. View northwest from Qibla door, Dome of the Rock A 1300-year-old product of the Umayyad dynasty, the Dome was an imaginative fusion of classical and oriental cultural traditions. The building stands in the visual center of the Masjid al-Aqsa, the large mosque esplanade at the southeast corner of the old walled city of Jerusalem. It was the first architectural statement of the Islamic religion in the city of religions. Designed with floor-to-ceiling ornament, it also possesses one of the earliest representations of Kufic Arabic and Quranic writing.

Young man in prayer

Sponsored by the ninth caliph Abdal-Mâlik bin Marwan, the Dome of the Rock became a marker, a buoy laying out a new trajectory in written and visual languages for a nascent Islamic civilization. Today it is simultaneously a quiet place of spiritual activity and a flashpoint of academic debate and geo-political controversy.

The photographer perceives architecture as more than form and function:
like Victor Hugo's Notre Dame, the Dome of the Rock is a reliquary of variegated delights, conundrums and mysteries: a living evolving testament of the many personalities who made and maintain it. To hint at such breadth of meaning and humanity, Nuseibeh calls this photographic collection archi-cultural portraiture. Through Nuseibeh's lush photographs, we visit the site and the material culture of both the Late Antique period in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as a calm creative corner of contemporary culture in Palestine-Israel.

Supportors of this project include the late Oleg Grabar, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Palestine Welfare Association in Geneva, the Jerusalem Awqâf, Rizzoli Intl Publications in NY, Thames & Hudson in London, Albin Michel in Paris, and most recently, the Fulbright Program in Washington DC and the Damascus Awqâf.

Additional support has come from exhibition venues, including the Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris), St Antony’s College (Oxford), Darat al-Funun (Amman), Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University (Oregon), St Gregory’s Episcopal Church & Scott Nichols Gallery (San Francisco).

Mosaic arcade, digitally recomposed from the individual panels

The traveling exhibition comprises interior and exterior photographs of the architecture: mosaic arcades and panels; classical entablature; corinthian capitals; quarter-sawn marble; gilded marble and hammered brass; carved and painted plaster, Kufic epigraphy; and a host of inscrutable iconographic treasures. Consonant with the mission of enhancing access to this site and its concomitant cultures, the photographs are highly representational, although --in the imaginative spirit of the architecture and decor-- conceptual treatments are also available.

Where Heaven and Earth Meet: Light Streaming from Beneath the Dome at Night

  Traveling Exhibition Details:

Core Exhibit:    Up to 56 prints, 29 H / 27 V, 185+ linear ft
Print Size: 16x20 window-matted; framed to 22x28
Frames: Nielsen #12 black (metal) w/ plex
Crates: 8x26x31 (8 crates total)
Rental: $4,000 for eight weeks
Insurance: $42,000
Shipping: TBD

Early Fatimid mihrâb inside the grotto Grotto with mihrabs and lamp Faience above the Qibla porch

related educational programs:
The exhibition can serve as a vehicle for arts-based research; interfaith, multi-cultural, and diversity programming; as well as a platform for discussion of contemporary life in the Middle East. The artist will work with host venues to adjust exhibition content for special emphases and size for different scales. The photographer will supply caption/text as well as help support educational programming. Limited edition fine prints of photographs featured in the exhibition are available for acquisition.

the publication: "The Dome of the Rock" book by Said Nuseibeh with an essay by Oleg Grabar (Rizzoli 1996)
The exhibition features an accompanying publication, The Dome of the Rock (Rizzoli 1996). From the dustjacket...

“The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is a great monument of world architecture and one of the holiest places on earth to Muslims, Christians, and Jews. This masterpiece of Islamic art, known in Arabic as the Qubbat al-Sakhra, stands in the Old City at the center of a 1.5 million-square-foot esplanade called the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), or Temple Mount. This southeastern quarter of Jerusalem's old walled city has been associated for nearly a thousand years with King Solomon's Jewish Temple and was once the site of King Herod's third Jewish Temple; it is also where Christ conducted much of his ministry.”

Copies signed by the artist can be made available for sale to the public in conjunction with the exhibit.

Click here to download a pdf version of this information. (9.1 mb)

Click selection to view current prints available for sale or exhibition. (xxx color)

To discuss hosting an exhibition Contact us

Gilt repousse on tie-beam


[Revised 1.28.2012]