All Collections

Comments and Reviews

“We have borrowed some remarkable objects not only from Japan, but from museums and private collections in the UK, Europe and America. Special thanks are due to Professor Nasser David Khalili – a great friend of the V&A – for his enormous encouragement of the exhibition, and for being so generous in lending pieces from his collection.”

Tristram Hunt, Director of Victoria and Albert Museum, on the occasion of the opening of – Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk exhibition, V&A, London, 26 February 2020

“At Wikimedia, we are actively seeking to diversify our cultural content, and the Khalili Collections is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse collections in the world, spanning some two and a half millennia, with masterpieces from Europe, the Middle East, Scandinavia, East Asia, Russia, South Asia, North Africa and beyond. We are proud to be partnering with one of the world’s great preservers of global cultural heritage”.

Lucy Crompton-Reid, CEO of Wikimedia UK at the Wikimania Conference in Stockholm, August 2019.

“Professor Nasser D Khalili, for the last five decades has made it his mission to safeguard the cultural and religious heritage of Makkah through collecting, preserving and conserving over three thousand objects representing the entire history of the Holy City since the birth of Islam”.

The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Holy Makkah, A Celebration of Unity (First, 2017)

“[The Khalili Hajj Collection] has a really wide scope geographically and chronologically. Collecting art of the Islamic world, and in the specific case of the Hajj, is so important to enable a bridge between cultures. What we actually notice in exhibitions like this is that they stir dialogue. Combining our objects with the Khalili objects, which are of monumental size and which are more historical, gives multilayer dimensions to this exhibition. It is extremely generous of the Khalili Collections to offer us this opportunity”.

Dr Luit Mols, Curator at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam on the opening of the Longing for Mecca Exhibition in February 2019

“Our role is to promote the common good in society and solidarity among the peoples. In our troubled times, interfaith harmony and cooperation couldn’t be more important, which is why Professor Nasser D Khalili, the famous Jewish collector, scholar and preserver of Islamic art and culture, was honoured with papal knighthoods from Popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI for his work in the pursuit of peace, education and culture amongst nations”.

Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino Honorary President, Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Vatican Holy Makkah, A Celebration of Unity (First, 2017)

“It would be impossible to create such a collection today, even with the ultimate time and funds”.

Gregory Irvine Senior curator, Japan, Asian department, Victoria and Albert museum, London, UK. Extract from the foreword of the catalogue, Beyond Imagination Treasures of Imperial Japan from the Khalili Collection 19th to Early 20th centuries July 2017

“I wish to thank one of our most dynamic UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors, Professor Nasser D Khalili, for his passion and unfailing commitment to the values of heritage. He has spent considerable time and effort safeguarding Islamic heritage and is now the custodian of the largest group of objects related to the Holy City of Makkah”.

Irina Bokova Director-General, UNESCO Holy Makkah, A Celebration of Unity (First, 2017)

“Professor Nasser Khalili, one of the world’s foremost collectors of Islamic art, frequently named the “cultural ambassador of Islam”, has assembled the collection, “Hajj and the art of the pilgrimage”, elements of which have been displayed in such prestigious institutions as the British Museum. This collection has even been praised by the Mayor of Makkah himself”.

Dr Akbar S Ahmed Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University Holy Makkah, A Celebration of Unity (First, 2017

“Professor Nasser Khalili is, of course, an extraordinary individual who has invested millions of pounds over half a century to amass what is perhaps the world’s greatest private collection of Islamic art. I have personally seen much of his collection at various exhibitions, most notably during the Hajj Exhibition at the British Museum in 2012. I have great admiration for Professor Khalili, and thank him for his great work in preserving Islamic heritage and making it accessible to people worldwide”.

Doctor Osama Fadl al-Bar, Mayor of Mecca Comment made in a television interview in 2016.

“Professor Nasser D. Khalili is not only a prominent art collector of international standing but also an outstanding scholar and benefactor, incidentally custodian of the greatest collection of objects related to Makkah and the Hajj. He has also been championing interfaith dialogue between the Abrahamic faiths for decades”.

Baroness Valerie Amos Director of SOAS, University of London Holy Makkah, A Celebration of Unity (First, 2017)

“You are a man who works for dialogue and peace”

Comment made by President François Hollande on the occasion of awarding Prof. Khalili the Rank of officier in the Ordre national de la Legion d’Honneur at the Elysée Palace 11 April 2016

“Above all, this show simply would not be possible without the extraordinary contribution of Professor David Khalili and the Khalili Collection and Family Trust and indeed one third of the exhibits up there are from the extraordinary collections of Islamic Art Professor Khalili has assembled and frankly without his particularly energetic, full-hearted and enthusiastic collaboration this project could not have ever got off the ground”.

Comment delivered by Alexander Sturgis, director of Asmolean Museum in Oxford on the occasion of opening the exhibition Power and Protection 19 October 2016

“The Khalili collection of Meiji art of Japan is only comparable as acknowledged by many scholars and museum directors, in terms of quality and size to the collection of the Japanese Imperial family”

Dr. Helena Gagarina General Director Moscow Kremlin Museums. Extract from the forward of the catalogue, Beyond Imagination Treasures of Imperial Japan from the Khalili Collection 19th to Early 20th centuries, July 2017

“We salute you Prof. Khalili, for enabling us to stage this unique exhibition”.

Comment made by President François Hollande on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition Hajj, le pe`lerinage a` La Mecque, Institut du monde arabe, Paris, France April 2014

“David Khalili’s collection covers the full breadth of Islamic material culture, not just the parts that have interested Western collectors in the past. You can see this especially in his collection of calligraphy and related materials – he is someone looking at Islamic culture from the inside. David has also invested in his collection by inviting specialists in a wide range of different fields to publish catalogues of his holdings. Many of these catalogues are the first publications in the field and have become vital tools for further research. He has also helped to raise the profile of Islamic art and design through a rich series of exhibitions across the world, collaborating with venues as august as the British Museum and as remote as Provo, Utah.”

Tim Stanley Senior Curator, Middle Eastern collections Victoria and Albert Museum 2014

“The Khalili collection of Hajj and the Arts of Pilgrimage (700-2000) ranks in importance alongside the collections of the Topkapi Saray Museum in Istanbul, and includes major objects, many of which are unique and irreplaceable and have no parallel in any other collection, private or public.”

Edward Gibbs Chairman, Sotheby’s Middle East and India June 2014

“Professor Khalili’s contribution to the world of art and culture is unparalleled, and for him to be called the Medici of the 21st century is no exaggeration.” “What makes Khalili’s story an especially remarkable one is the simple fact that as a Jew he is probably doing more than anyone to promote Islamic art and culture worldwide.”

Waqãs Ahmed FIRST Magazine September 2014

“From Jerusalem, the city of Light and Hope, I send you the expression of my admiration. I pay homage to the Board of Directors of the Aladdin Project for choosing you as the 2014 laureate of the Dialogue of Cultures Award; it is a truly merited act of gratitude for all that you have done in the domain of intercultural and interfaith dialogue, as well as your significant contribution to the effulgence of Islamic arts.”

René-Samuel Sirat Chief Rabbi emeritus of France, Vice-President of the Conference of European Rabbis 12 June 2014

“Professor Khalili, of Jewish Iranian heritage, is today one of the world’s greatest ambassadors of culture and Islamic arts. We are honoured that he is with us tonight at the National Assembly.” “Tonight we are celebrating the outstanding achievements of a deeply humanist man of culture and science, without whom the major exhibition on Hajj at the Arab World Institute (Institut du monde arabe) could never have taken place. Professor Khalili has shown a unique determination to forge dialogue between cultures and religions and to improve the mutual knowledge of people of different cultures”.

Jack Lang President of the Arab World Institute and former French Minster of Culture, during the ceremony of the Dialogue of Cultures Award at the French Parliament, 12 june 2014

“I am particularly pleased that the 2014 Award for the Dialogue of Cultures goes to Professor Nasser David Khalili. In the person of Professor Khalili, we are honouring a truly remarkable leader in reaching out boldly across cultural and religious divides and proving that, as he has said himself, what we have in common is far greater than what divides us. He is the perfect laureate for the Aladdin Award for the Dialogue of Cultures.”

Gerhard Schröder Former Chancellor of Germany June 2014

“Professor Khalili, of Jewish Iranian heritage, is today one of the world’s greatest ambassadors of culture and Islamic arts. We are honoured that he is with us tonight at the National Assembly”.

Claude Bartolone, President of the French National Assembly, during the ceremony of the Dialogue of Cultures Award 12 June 2014

“I was so pleased to learn that Professor Khalili was to receive the “Maimonides-Averroes Award”. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award. David is passionate about the cause of peace and has made a remarkable contribution to improving dialogue, understanding and respect between those of different faiths. I have discussed these issues with David many times over the years and it is his dedication to the cause and his rational and compassionate thinking that has always been apparent. He has given much; and it is clear he still has so much to give. I can’t think of anyone who better represents the values encompassed by the Maimonides-Averroes Award for mutual knowledge and respect than David”.

The Right Hon Tony Blair Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom May 201

“There are frequent flashes of generosity of spirit that cannot be scripted …” “Like most great philanthropists, he is passionate but there is a certain timeless wisdom about him too.”

B Beyond Magazine January 2013 January 2013

“Items from the archive – as well as the spectacular embroidered textiles themselves – were recently on show at the British Museum’s exhibition Hajj: Journey to the Hearth of Islam. Indeed the Khalili Family Trust was the largest lender to this landmark show… After Topkapi Serayi in Istanbul, the trust also holds the worlds largest group of textiles and objects – among them scientific instruments, maps and miniatures – relating to Mecca and Medina.”

Susan Moore Financial Times 12 May 2012

“Though religious conflict and intolerance often claim center stage, throughout the world there are people working tirelessly for interfaith peace and understanding. Nasser David Khalili is a leader among them” “In recognition of his services to humanity through art, culture and philanthropy, and in acknowledgement of his exceptional journey as one of our most distinguished alumni, we are proud today to present Nasser David Khalili with the Queens College President’s Medal”

President James Muyskens Queens College New York 30 May 2013

“…. what Prof. Khalili (David) represents… he is more than a collector, art historian, business man, of diverse cultural background…he’s just a HUMANIST and this is what is so wonderful about him” “… In 17th Century France, there is a very interesting description of people (such as David) – an HONEST MAN , meaning a man of passionate intellect and great culture, a man of balance and reason…. (showing) an intellectual and moral spirituality towards humanity “Dear Professor Khalili, you have always been an ambassador for the values that inspire UNESCO’s action”

Irina Bokova Director General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the designation of Prof. Nasser D. Khalili , Phd, KCSS, KCFO as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Paris 16 October 2012

“From The Khalili Collections – perhaps the greatest and grandest assemblage of Islamic art in private hands – comes a wonderfully vivid manuscript illustrating the rites of Hajj in richly… detailed sequence. And, at the heart of the show, is a marvellous display of the magnificent textiles traditionally offered to the Kaaba…”

Rachel Campbell-Johnston The Times, on the occasion of Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam, an exhibition at the British Museum from 26 January to 15 April 2012 24 January 2012 16 October 2012

“It would have been impossible to tell that story without those great Works of Art from David’s collection”. “On behalf of all of us at the museum and thousands of people who will see this exhibition, I would like to thank you, David, and your family for your amazing generosity, especially for this exhibition, which will allow, I hope, a new set of people to understand what Hajj is”. “It would have been impossible to tell that story without those great Works of Art from David’s collection”

Neil MacGregor Director, The British Museum On the occasion of The Hajj Exhibition at the British Museum 2012

” His collection is certainly the best in private hands’ says Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s head of middle Eastern art. He is the man who has everything, He’s come to define the market.”

Bloomberg Magazine May 2010

“My Dear David, what can I say, here stands a Galileo. I have known you for many years when the late holy father pope John Paul II of blessed memory created you a Knight of St. Sylvester, I said of you at that time if you remember that you had in one person the great wisdom of 3 religious leaders: a Chief Rabbi a Cardinal and Grand Mufti. This was true then and it’s true today”.

Words of the holy father Pope Benedict XVI (read by his representative) on the occasion of presenting the honour of Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St
Sylvester (KCSS) 2009

Professor Nasser D. Khalili, who has amassed what is almost certainly the greatest collection of Islamic art in existence.

Andrew Mckie, From an article: The British Museum’s Pilgrimage, The Wall Street Journal January 27, 2012

“Rencontre avec le plus grand collectionneur du monde, Nasser David Khalili, collectionneur de légende” “Meeting with the Greatest Collector in the world – Nasser D Khalili, legendary collector”

Stephanie Bélpêche LE JOURNAL DU DIMANCHE 4 October 2009

“It’s an absolutely superb collection of Enamels. It’s fantastically interesting. It brings together different cultures, and it works together in very important ways. It’s a dialogue of cultures, and it has unique pieces… He has chosen a field not so much visited by other collectors. The art market comes in waves, and he knows how to gauge the weather.” “All great collectors are very unusual, but Prof. Khalili is very special. His attitude is: ‘I am not the owner. I am the keeper of the collection for the next generation and the next century.’ It’s a very important philosophy.” “It is one of the most important Islamic collection in the world – not just one of the most important in private hands, but in museums, too. It includes all aspects of Islamic art. It’s very spectacular.” “The Khalili Collection `Enamels Of The World 1700 – 2000’, which includes spectacular masterpieces from all the major centres of enameling, is pioneering in its focused study of the subject. Unique in its scope, the Collection reveals the remarkable technical achievements of the enamellers and encourages a greater awareness of the range of their activity. For these reasons I was convinced that the first public showing of the Collection should take place in the galleries of the State Hermitage Museums in St Petersburg.” “The State Hermitage Museum has worked with Nasser D. Khalili on three occasions and in each case approximately half the pieces were drawn from the Khalili Collection”.

Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky Director The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg December 2009

“His Islamic treasures include a 14th-centuary Iranian world history by Rashid al-Din Fadlallah; Its one of the greatest illustrated manuscripts in the world”

Tim Stanley Senior curator for the Middle East at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Bloomberg Magazine May 2010

“The collectors of the art of the past have shown a shift towards making the contents of their collections a matter of public record… the leviathan is Nasser D Khalili’s astonishing 32 volumes and rising."

‘Great Collectors of our Time’ by James Stourton Chairman, Sotheby’s UK, 2008

“He’s an unparalleled Art Collector”

Ernest Veen Director of De Nieuwe Kerk and Hermitage Amsterdam December 2010

“Nasser D. Khalili is a born collector and a great ambassador for Islamic art. His collection is unrivalled.”

Edward Gibbs Chairman, Middle East and India, Sotheby’s, London January 2008

“The Public will be astounded by the diversity of the Khalili material”

International Herald Tribune Geoffrey Munn, managing director of wartski, an art and antique dealer in London 10 December 2009

“Professor Khalili is an established world figure in the domain of Islamic art. His academic contributions to understanding Islamic culture are significant and his collection is among the best in the world. It was natural for us to seek him out and establish a personal relationship and friendship between us. Last year, we sent out a team to Sydney, Australia, to see his exhibition at The Art Gallery of New South Wales and we decided that, in view of our wider vision to anchor our Cultural District in its Islamic tradition, it would be important to cooperate with him on a long-term basis.”

HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al-Nahyan Chairman Abu Dhabi Tourism The Arts of Islam Exhibition – Canvas Magazine January 2008

“David Khalili puts most collectors to shame. In an age in which so many rich men call themselves collectors and seem more interested in displaying their wealth than the art they have acquired through it, Khalili has done rather more then simply raise a paddle in the saleroom”. “Abu Dhabi is hosting the most comprehensive exhibition of Islamic art ever staged in the Middle East”

Susan Moore Apollo Magazine March 2008

“Nasser D. Khalili lives, thinks and breathes art. For him life and art are noble and inseparable. Nobody believes more in the healing power of art and the lessons we can learn from it.”

James Stourton Chairman, Sotheby’s UK January 2008

“The Arts of Islam exhibition is a copious and precious record of Islamic masterpieces and artistic achievements. It is a fertile and inexhaustible treasure house that recounts the history of a community that had a mighty role in building human civilization and enriching it with knowledge, art and culture. I highly value the efforts of Professor Nasser al-Khalili and what he has done to promote this valuable cultural heritage, to care for it and to preserve it, and to present it to current and future generations so that all who see it will learn about the brilliance of the noble and deeply-rooted Islamic civilization.”

Translation of the comment made by HH General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on the occasion of the opening of the Arts of Islam Exhibition in Abu Dhabi January 2008

“An attempt to value the Nasser D. Khalili collection of Islamic Art would be an impossible task. Even with an infinite budget one would not be able to rebuild such a collection; hence it is literally priceless.”

Claire Penhallurick Director, Islamic & Indian art, Bonhams 2008

“Few men have made such an impressive contribution to the preservation and understanding of Islamic art as Nasser David Khalili, one of the world’s foremost collectors. Driven by passion to share the riches of the past with the modern world for more than three decades, his quest to assemble an unparalleled collection has played a central role in his life”

Philippa Scott and Lisa Ball-Lechgar Canvas Magazine January 2007

“The main reason for the exhibition of Wonders of Imperial Japan at the Van Gogh Museum was its connection to Van Gogh’s painting. It was Van Gogh who said in his letter to his brother Theo on 1888 ‘In a way all my work is founded on Japanese art…’ “

Axel Rüger Director, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam July 2006

“Many items in the Nasser D. Khalili collection are completely unique – without parallel in museums let alone the market. It is a collection that would be impossible to recreate.”

William Robinson International Specialist Head Department Islamic Art, Christies London January 2008

“David Khalili is The Ambassador of Culture”

Mahmud Al-Rashid EMEL – The Muslim Lifestyle Magazine January 2006

“Everyone should look at the art of Islam. It confounds every stereotype… This is art… staggering art.”

Jonathan Jones The Guardinan 13 April 2004

“This collection is without a doubt the largest and most comprehensive collection of Islamic Art in the world and we consider ourselves very lucky to be able to host it in our Museum.”

Edmund Capon, AM,OBE Director NSW Gallery, Sydney, Australia 2007

“…we are treated to an admirably concise but wide ranging and, in many respects, ground-breaking overview of Ottoman culture”

Susan Moore Financial Times July 2005

“The Medici, Lady Charlotte Schreiber, J. Paul Getty – all names inscribed on the roll of honour of those who had an overwhelming urge to collect… Such collectors are spread as thinly today as ever, but one such as Dr Nasser D Khalili who, unusually, is more than willing to share his passion with a wider public.”

David Battie Masterpiece Winter 1999

“David Khalili is The ‘Born Collector’ “

Martin Gayford Art news, The Global Art Boom May 2006

“Dr. Khalili is a man of obvious rare taste, and his collection of Islamic art is a very important collection, and very wisely collected,”

Herbert Mason in the article – ‘Authority and collector Khalili to explore glories of Islamic art’ by David J. Craig in Boston University Bridge, Vol. VI, No. 20 February 2003

“Today I am speechless and proud to be Japanese”

His Excellency Kunihiko Saito Japanese Ambassador to Washington (on the occasion of the Official Opening of the Delaware Exhibition) 10 April 1999

“Professor Khalili has spent the last 35 years promoting the art and culture of Islam so perhaps it is more appropriate for us to call him ‘a cultural ambassador of Islam’. “

His Excellency Dr. Adeli The Iranian ambassador to London, at the Launch of The TimeLine History of Islamic Art and Architecture, The Banqueting House, London November 2005

“Such is the scale of his collection that amongst the knowing he is spoken of in the same breath as the late oil billionaire, Paul Getty”.

EuroBusiness Magazine, October 2001

“This series is a monumental celebration of the material culture of the Islamic peoples, the so called ‘people of the Book’. For their production values, for their very substantial scholarship, and of course for the collection itself, these volumes can only be seen as a landmark series….”

Phil Baker The Art Book December 1995

“…Khalili is a most unusual collector – and also an extraordinary man” “Healing the world with art”

Martin Gayford ‘The Independent: Arts and Books Review’ 16 April 2004

“…the appreciation of all the Zuloaga descendants [goes] to Prof Khalili… for this superb collection of damascene art, and… for having given the world the opportunity to admire the works, not only of the Zuloagas, but of all the Basque artisans like them.”

Mariá Rosa Suárez Zuloaga Zuloaga Museum Spain Summer 2000

“One of the most lavish publications ever produced on Japanese art… the tomes feature… stunningly exquisite artistic treasures …”

John Chipperfield Wings Of Gold, In-flight Magazine of Malaysian Airlines November 1995

“Dr. Khalili is a man of obvious rare taste, and his collection of Islamic art is a very important collection, and very wisely collected,”

Herbert Mason in the article – ‘Authority and collector Khalili to explore glories of Islamic art’ by David J. Craig in Boston University Bridge, Vol. VI, No. 20 February 2003

“The aim of Professor Khalili and the Nour Foundation to put together a scholarly survey of Islamic art in all its facets has certainly been achieved in this catalogue……Taking these two well-produced volumes from their slip-case is like opening a two-dimensional virtual museum with all the scientific wonders of the Islamic World spread before us.”

Willem Hackmann Bulletin of The Scientific Instrument Society, No. 61 1999

“Professor Nasser D. Khalili……….one of the world’s leading collectors of Japanese art from the Meiji period.”

Museums by John Russell Taylor The Times 12 November 1994

“…A landmark in the study of nineteenth century Spanish decorative art.”

Dr Alan Borg Director, Victoria & Albert Museum, on the occasion of the opening of the Zuloaga exhibition 1997

“At that time we could not have guessed the existence of Professor Khalili’s collection… a feat which could not possibly be duplicated or even approached by any museum in the world today…”

Dr Robert Anderson Director, British Museum, Talking on the exhibition Japanese Imperial Craftsman, 21 September 1994 – 15 January 1995

“In its breadth and vision Dr Khalili’s magnificent survey of the arts of the Islamic lands must be regarded as one of the outstanding publishing achievements of the century”.

Dr Julian Raby Director, Smithsonian Institution Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Washington DC, in a Presentation Ceremony at the Locarno Suite, British Foreign Office 1992 London

“His collection is superlative and to have it on permanent display in this country would be phenomenal.” “…others such as David Khalili are engaged in a life-long quest to build bridges between world communities through philanthropy… This is philanthropy on a grand scale… He regards himself as the custodian rather than owner of the ancient artefacts…”

Peter Stock of the British Library in an article by Ian Birrell and Robina Gibb Sunday Times 13 September 1992