Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online is a free and open-access online platform of digital resources to aid the teaching of Islamic art, architecture, and visual culture. It has received financial support from UM’s Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum (DISC), through a grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and UM’s History of Art Department.
Khamseen is spearheaded by Christiane Gruber, Professor of Islamic art at the University of Michigan. The seeds of the project were sown in early 2020, when she and several students began to discuss ways to make Islamic art history more widely accessible online. With the subsequent outbreak of COVID-19 in spring 2020, the need for reliable scholarly materials became more clear and pressing. In the spirit of change, our initiative was named after the seasonal khamsin winds, and our Arabic-script Khamseen logo includes the abstract design of a wind-catcher (badgir).
Over the course of summer 2020, Team Khamseen grew to include six members: Sandra Williams, Michelle Al-Ferzly, Bihter Esener, Yasemin Gencer, Ani Kalousdian, and Mira Xenia Schwerda. The first stage of the project was achieved in August 2020 with the launch of a collection of short-form multimedia presentations created by a group of international experts in Islamic art, which were provided to educators in order to create an engaging and dynamic classroom experience. One year later, in August 2021, Khamseen launched its Glossary, which features short video presentations explaining the meaning, etymology, and use of key terms relating to Islamic art, architecture, and visual culture. Khamseen continues to expand its platform with short-form multimedia content and other teaching resources with the aim of bringing new voices, subjects, and audiences to the field of Islamic art history.