Marilyn Jenkins-Madina donates collection to the Aga Khan Documentation Center

Gift includes images from important sites and collections throughout Middle East and North Africa

Image of inscription at Jami' Bu Fatata, Sousse, Tunisia. 838-41/223-26 AH

Image of inscription at Jami’ Bu Fatata, Sousse, Tunisia.
838-41/223-26 AH

Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, PhD, curator emerita, Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has donated her research collection to AKDC@MIT. Her gift includes ca. 4,250 35mm slides, along with some born digital images, from important sites and collections throughout the Middle East and North Africa, including but not limited to: Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and Iran. Many of the sites she documented have now been lost to time, natural disaster, or war and can only be studied through scholars’ collections such as this.

Jenkins-Madina began her long curatorial career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1964. Having received her B.A. from Brown University in 1962, she continued to pursue her education while working at the Metropolitan Museum, earning both her M.A. and Ph.D. during this time. From her initial appointment as curatorial assistant, she rose through the ranks during her 40-year tenure as curator in the Department of Islamic Art and was named curator emerita upon her retirement in 2004.

Marilyn Jenkins-Madina’s work includes the critical revision and expansion of those sections dealing with the decorative arts and the arts of the book in the second edition, published in 2001, of the preeminent text, Islamic Art and Architecture: 650-1250.  These sections in the first edition, published in 1987, had initially been written by her mentor and long-term colleague, Richard Ettinghausen. In 2006, she published Raqqa Revisited:  Ceramics of Ayyubid Syria, an important study using art historical detective work, archival documents, and scientific data to place these objects in a secure historical context for the first time.

In addition to the permanent and temporary exhibitions Jenkins-Madina helped to mount and publish at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she was also very actively engaged throughout her long career in helping various countries in the Near and Middle East to present their own material from the Islamic world. The largest such undertaking was serving as the project director for the creation and installation of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyya in Kuwait, which opened to great acclaim in 1983. She remains an active participant in her field.

Portions of her collection will be digitized and openly available via AKDC’s dissemination resource, Archnet. Students, scholars, and researchers may view Marilyn Jenkins-Madina’s collection in the Center during normal business hours.

Included with Jenkins-Madina’s generous gift was a smaller collection of papers, business records, and images given to her by her friend, Adrienne Minassian.  Minassian (1913-1994) worked with her father, Kirkor Minassian (1874-1944), as an art dealer specializing in Islamic and Near-East art in New York and Paris. Although the family gallery in New York closed in 1923, Minassian, and his daughter Adrienne after him, continued as dealers as well as personal art collectors.  This collection will not be available on Archnet; however the finding aid will be on our lib guide and researchers are welcome in the Center to examine the materials.