Sheikh of Sharjah to Sponsor Germany’s Gutenberg Museum

The cash-strapped museum was facing partial closures.

The Sheik has been described as a bridge builder between east and west. Photo: uaeinteract.com
The Gutenberg Museum, Mainz documents the history of printing. Photo: Christian Baum via RMS Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund Servicegesellschaft

The Gutenberg Museum in Mainz documents the history of printing.
Photo: Christian Baum via RMS Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund Servicegesellschaft

In a surprising announcement the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany revealed that the institution signed a financial support package with the Sheikh of Sharjah, Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi of the United Arab Emirates.

The cooperative contract guarantees the Sheikh’s financial support for at least three years. A spokesperson for the city of Mainz told Art Magazin that the contract could theoretically be extended beyond that.

“It is a nice signal from the Arab world,” the spokesperson said, but declined to reveal how much the support package was worth. However reports in Allgemeine Zeitung said the Sheikh will be allocating €100,000 over the next three years.

Museum director Annette Ludwig and Curator Dr. Claus Maywald with Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi. Photo: hbz/Bahr via Allgemeine Zeitung

Museum director Annette Ludwig and Curator Dr. Claus Maywald with Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi.
Photo: hbz/Bahr via Allgemeine Zeitung

The princely sum is aimed at supporting the museum’s small but impressive Arab-Islamic galleries.

A representative of the Gutenberg Museum told artnet News in a telephone call that in the recent past the galleries faced partial closures due to a lack of funds. “We can’t guarantee the safety of the collection without qualified security personnel,” the representative said.

The deal was brokered by Professor Günter Meyer, head of the center for the Arab world at the University of Mainz, who knows the Sheikh. Meyer told Allgemeine Zeitung that Sheikh al-Qasimi is “a real bridge-builder between the Arab and Western world. The near east’s only ruler who’s also an academic.” The Sheikh earned a doctorate degree from the English universities of Exeter and Durham.

The Sheik has been described as a bridge builder between east and west. Photo: uaeinteract.com

The Sheikh has been described as a bridge builder between East and West.
Photo: uaeinteract.com

Known for his love of the arts, the Sheikh visited the Gutenberg Museum during a short stay in the city last year. However, when he wanted to see the Islamic collection, which includes valuable early printed versions of the Koran, he was told the galleries were closed because there wasn’t enough security personnel.

The Sheik’s generous donation will ensure that this won’t happen again, at least not within the next three years. According to museum director, Annette Ludwig, the funds will be used to hire sufficient security personnel to keep all sections of the collection open to the public at all times.

The new partnership could also lead to exciting traveling exhibitions coming to Mainz in light of the Sheik’s holdings in 25 private museums, Ludwig added.


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