The society was founded in Munich 1989 by art historians and ethnologists from universities and museums and others interested in Islamic art and culture.
Since then it has pursued the remit it set itself: to work as a non-profit institution, without ideological or political allegiance, to promote “knowledge about Islamic art and culture as an important vehicle for international and intercultural understanding.” In this way, it fosters mutual understanding and forges links between the Western world and the Islamic world.
The society currently has about 250 members in Germany and abroad. Prof. Annemarie Schimmel (died 2003), Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Prof. Hans Georg Majer and Prof. Marcell Restle (died 2016) are honorary members of the society.
The Friends of Islamic Art and Culture maintain cordial relations with other associations with similar aims, such as the German Oriental Society and the German-Turkish Society. We also have close contacts with museums, such as the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Munich or the Museum for Islamic Art in Berlin, and to the publishing house of C.H.Beck, Munich, which has an active interest in Middle Eastern and Oriental studies and is one of our corporate members.
Allianz Visiting Professorships at Munich University
Thanks to a trust set up by the Allianz Group, one of world’s leading financial services enterprises, we – as equally the friends of the chair of Jewish studies – are able to fund Visiting professorships for Jewish and Islamic Studies at Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-University. Our society, in conjunction with the university, oversees the Visiting Professorship for Islamic Studies, inviting distinguished scholars from the Islamic region. This professorship is intended to contribute to an ongoing dialogue between Islam and Europe. The Allianz Visiting Professorship came to an end in 2018.
In conjunction with the institute for art history, the institute for the Near and Middle East and the Munich Center for Middle East-Mediterranean-Middle Asia Studies (4MZ) at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, we organise around ten lectures each year at the university, which are open and free to the public. The speakers are prominent experts in the field, who talk about architecture, arts and crafts, literature and music of the Islamic world.
The texts of selected lectures and other important contributions on Islamic Art and Culture are published in the society’s annual journals; so far we have documented the years up to 2018 in seven volumes; members have received these volumes at a reduced price.
The name EOTHEN – Greek for “from the Orient” – is borrowed from a travel journal published in London in 1844 and written by the politician and historian Alexander William Kinglake (1809-1891) who was of Scottish origin.
Members receive regular information from the society, including summaries of lectures, news of exhibitions and other events taking place in the world of Islamic art and culture, and information on relevant literature.
Exhibition of Islamic art
To mark its tenth anniversary, the society organised in 2000 the highly acclaimed exhibition “Islamic art from private collections in Germany” in the Bavarian Armeemuseum in Ingolstadt. All the exhibits belonged to private collections of society members.
The catalogue contains colour illustrations of all 150 works of art – most of them not previously published – and descriptions written by academics from German museums.
Board of Trustees
Professors from the affiliated university institutes, as well as aficionados and collectors of Islamic art, serve in an honorary capacity on the Board of Trustees.