Posted on September 30, 2017

Qatar Museums has announced the appointment of Dr Julia Gonnella as Director of the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Qatar. She joins the Museum from her previous post as Curator at the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin.

Julia Gonnella studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where she gained her BA in Islamic Art and Archaeology (1986) and MA in Social Anthropology (1987), before being awarded her PhD in Islamic Studies and Social Anthropology at Eberhard-Karls-Universität, Tubingen in 1994. She began her career as a student intern at the V&A Museum in London before joining the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin in 1994 as Assistant to the Chief Curator. She was appointed Curator of the Museum in 2009, where she has worked until her present appointment as Director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.

Among the exhibitions she curated for the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin are: Heroic Times – A Thousand Years of the Persian Book of Kings (2011), Samarra – Centre of the World, 2012 (2013), Masterworks from the Serail, The Albums of Heinrich Friedrich von Diez (2013), and How Islamic Art Came to Berlin: The Collector and Museum Director Friedrich Sarre (2015). She has undertaken extensive archaeological fieldwork throughout her career. Starting as a student she worked on German excavations in Raqqa/Syria (1984 -1989) and the Kuwaiti excavations in Bahnasa/Egypt (1985). Most notably, between 1996 and 2011 she co-ordinated the Syrian-German excavations of the Islamic Citadel of Aleppo, one of the Middle East’s greatest treasures, tragically damaged in the Syrian Civil War.

Julia Gonnella has written and edited numerous books and articles. Amongst others, she is author of The Citadel of Aleppo (Aga Khan Trust of Culture, Geneva 2007), and editor with Jens Kröger of Angels, Peonies and Fabulous Creatures: The Aleppo Room from Berlin. An International Symposium 12-13 April 2002. (Published Munster 2008). Most recently she co-edited with Christoph Rauch and Friederike Weis and contributed to Contents and Contexts: Re-Viewing the Diez Albums. Leiden (Leiden 2017). She is a recipient of significant Awards and Fellowships. Among these are Cordoba: VCU Qatar Fellowship for the conference ‘Diverse Are Their Hues’ (2009) and Metropolitan Museum New York: Curatorial Exchange Fellow (2013).

Julia Gonnella said: “I am honoured to be given this opportunity to lead Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art, one of the world’s great museums. With its peerless collection, and its signature building, the Museum has pioneered understanding and appreciation of Islamic art globally. Throughout my career, I have dedicated myself to the study of the cultural history of the Islamic world. It is a lifetime’s passion and commitment. I look forward to leading this unique institution into its second decade, building on its extraordinary achievements and opening up new stories of the treasures of Islamic art.”