There’s a Poignant Private Art Exhibit Inside the Qatar America Institute for Culture

Image of Arbilli’s ‘And we made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another to exchange knowledge’

As most of DC’s museums continue to be closed, it can be hard to get the culture you’ve been craving. But a cultural institute near Dupont Circle has an almost secret art exhibit inside that is not only open right now… it’s free!

Qatar America Institute for Culture (QAIC) is a Washington, DC-based arts and culture non-profit that promotes cross-cultural dialogue between Qatar, the US, and the greater Arab and Islamic worlds. Currently on view at the Institute — which is located in a stunning former residence — is “Transcendent Text,” 20 painting works by Iraqi master calligrapher Sabah Arbilli.

Image of Arbilli’s ‘Don’t deprive the people of their due’

Transcendent Text: Exploring Universal Values Through Islamic Calligraphy combines traditional calligraphy in modern art. Each of the works speaks to a basic human right and talks about it, literally, with calligraphic words, from documents like the Qur’an and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Among our favorites is Arbilli’s Don’t deprive the people of their due (Qur’an), which Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights echoes with: Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

Sure, you can view the installation virtually, but individuals and small groups looking to visit can also make an appointment for a special showing. It’s like a free private art museum tour organized by the National Human Rights Committee in Qatar.