Islamic Museum of Australia
Location15A Anderson Road, Thornbury, Victoria, Australia
Coordinates37°45′16″S 144°58′51″E / 37.75451°S 144.98079°E / -37.75451; 144.98079
Entrance foyer
Islamic Faith exhibit area
Islamic Art exhibit area

The Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA) is a community museum in Thornbury, Melbourne, Australia. It began as a not-for-profit foundation[1] founded in May 2010 with the purpose of establishing the first Islamic museum in Australia. It aims to showcase the artistic heritage and historical contributions of Muslims in Australia and abroad through the display of artworks and historical artefacts.[2][3]


Designed by desypher, a Melbourne-based architectural firm,[4] the $10 million museum was opened on 28 February 2014 by the Australian treasurer Joe Hockey.[5] It shared a $4 million grant from the Government of Victoria's multicultural facilities program.[6] The museum was established by Moustafa Fahour, who is director of the museum[7] and Maysaa Fahour, with his brother Ahmed Fahour (CEO of Australia Post) and family contributing $4 million, early in 2014, to the IMA.[8]

Architecture and siting

The unique architectural style features a rusted Corten Steel facade representing the Australian outback, wrapped a white cube covered in geometric tilework with Arabic calligraphy.[citation needed]

The site backs onto Merri Creek, near the border of Thornbury and Brunswick East, two of Melbourne's well-established multicultural suburbs.[6]


The IMA is the first centre of its kind in Australia to showcase a diverse range of Islamic arts including architecture, calligraphy, paintings, glass, ceramics and textiles. The museum also aims to promote new and established Islamic artists, both local and international. The Temoporary Gallery has hosted exhibitions such as Mush by Sydney based Blake Prize-winning artist Khaled Sabsabi, and Borderlands: Islamic design covered surfboards by Sydney-based artist Phillip George.[9]

The permanent art gallery contains many unique works, including a 2011 Archibald Prize shortlisted portrait of Waleed Aly. The effort to establish this purpose-built Islamic Museum was geared towards sharing the artistic and historical achievements of Muslims internationally, and particularly in Australia. The Australian Muslim History gallery focuses on the history of Afghan cameleers, Malay pearlers, Albanian farmers and others. This was documented in the book and documentary, Boundless Plains, produced by the IMA based on a 2011 expedition unearthing unique Muslim stories from outback Australia.[10]

The Museum's Modern Middle Eastern Cafe is run by Masterchef Australia 2013 Top 3 finalist Samira El-Khafir, who is Fahour's sister.[8]

Recognition and criticism

The Islamic Museum of Australia's permanent exhibition was Highly Commended in the 2014 Museums Australia MAGNA awards, endorsed as: "An important new museum which sensitively interconnects Australia's Muslim heritage with strong interpretive themes".[11]

Yassir Morsi, from the International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding at the University of South Australia, in his review lists a number of deficiencies, saying the museum displays "how European we are when we colonise our Islamic history". He says the museum's only saving grace is the large oil painting of Waleed Aly.[12]

Sponsorship and governance

Etihad Airways and Dubai-based Habtoor Leighton Group[13] are principal partners, while the museum branding was completed by Design 55 - a Dubai based studio. Gallery One from the Jumeirah Beach Residence Dubai, supplies the museum's gift store. The museum has a major UAE influence.[14]

The federal government contributed $1.5 million towards the IMA in the 2012-13 budget.[15] The Australian Labor Party promised to contribute a further $3 million during its unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2013.[16]

In February 2015 the Saudi Government contributed $1 million towards the IMA.[17] In March of that year the federal government allocated $500,000 and the state government pledged $450,000[18] for an arts and culture education program which will be developed by the IMA.[19]

AMA exhibition and art prize

The Australian Muslim Artists launched in 2018, as an annual non-acquisitive exhibition featuring the work of emerging and established Australian Muslim artists. AMA is also a database of artists and art professionals intended as a networking tool for both local and international artists.[20] Following the establishment of the AMA Art Prize in 2019, the exhibition includes only shortlisted entries for the prize.[21] In 2021 the AMA exhibition is available for viewing online.[22][23][21]

The Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize was established in 2019, with the prize initially (until 2020[24]) worth A$15,000, as an annual acquisitive art prize hosted by IMA in collaboration with sponsor La Trobe University.[25] As of 2021 the award is worth A$10,000.[23] The prize is open "to any Australian artist whose work is influenced by Islamic art or Muslim identity".[22] The winning work is added to the university's collection managed by La Trobe Art Institute.[26]

The partnership with La Trobe includes possibilities such as the university providing training in Islamic cultures for teachers, adding a new component to journalism courses and "work-integrated learning opportunities".[27]


See also


  1. ^ "The trustee for the foundation for the islamic museum of australia". Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. 19 May 2010. Archived from the original on 27 June 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  2. ^ Farouque, Farah (2 May 2011). "Planned museum hopes to shed light on Islam". The Age. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  3. ^ Buckley, Anisa (2012). "The First Islamic Museum of Australia: challenging negative assumptions of Muslims in Australia through art, heritage and discovery" (PDF). La Trobe Journal (89). Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  4. ^ "Home". Desypher. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Joe Hockey launches Australia's first Islamic Museum in Thornbury". Northcote Leader. 4 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b "State cash for Thornbury's Islamic Museum". Melbourne Times Weekly. 29 January 2013. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  7. ^ Murphy, Jason (13 October 2012). "Fahour's family spirit for Islamic museum". Australian Financial Review. Archived from the original on 15 November 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2014.((cite news)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ a b Whinnett, Ellen (18 June 2014). "Australia Post donates boss Ahmed Fahour's $2m bonus to Islamic Museum of Australia". Herald Sun. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Borderlands exhibition fosters cultural understanding". 12 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Boundless Plains". Boundless Plains. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Museums Australia". Museums Australia. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  12. ^ Morsi, Yassir (2 April 2014). "Visit to The Islamic Museum of Australia". Australian Muslim Times. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  13. ^ "Dubai's HLG to sponsor Oz Islamic museum". Arabian Business. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  14. ^ "First Islamic museum in Australia launches in Melbourne with major UAE influence". The National. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  15. ^ Strickland, Katrina (10 May 2012). "Islamic museum gets $1.5m in budget". Australian Financial Review. Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2014.((cite news)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  16. ^ Labor, Australian (12 August 2013). "New Museum Celebrating the Wealth of Islamic Culture - Receives $3 Million From Federal Labor". Australian Labor Party. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  17. ^ "KSA gives $1m in donation to Islamic Museum in Australia". Arab News. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Islamic Museum of Australia Gets Government Cash to Develop Online Education Program". Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  19. ^ "$500,000 for Islamic Museum of Australia Arts and Culture Education Program". Media release. The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts. 2 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  20. ^ "Australian Muslim Artist". Islamic Museum of Australia. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Australian Muslim Artists 2021". Art Guide Australia. 23 August 2021. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  22. ^ a b c Fain-Binda, Fernanda (19 August 2021). "Gallery: The Muslim Australian artists sharing their deeply personal works with the world". SBS News. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  23. ^ a b c Musa, Helen (20 August 2021). "Fatima becomes first woman to win Muslim art prize". Canberra CityNews. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  24. ^ "Australian Muslim artists exhibition". La Trobe University. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  25. ^ a b c "AMA Art Prize 2019 winner announced". La Trobe University. 12 September 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  26. ^ a b "Fatima Killeen announced as recipient of Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize 2021". La Trobe University. 19 August 2021. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  27. ^ "Islamic Museum partnership strengthened". La Trobe University. 19 June 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  28. ^ "AMA Art Prize 2020 winner announced". La Trobe University. 13 August 2020. Retrieved 29 September 2021.