Regional overview: Middle East

The Middle East collections of the Museum are dominated by a single internationally significant collection, that of the traveler and explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, whose writings on Arabia became classics of 20th-century travel literature. The Museum formally acquired the Thesiger Collection in 2004 from the UK Government via its art in lieu of inheritance tax scheme. Thesiger’s photographs include rare early images of Arabia (1940s), the marshes of southern Iraq (1950s), Iran (1960s) and Iraqi Kurdistan (1940s and 1950s). Other significant collections include photographs by Robert E. Cheesman from Iraq and Saudi Arabia (1920s), and a rare set of prints from the 1920s by the Tehran-based photographer Antoin Sevruguin.

Interior of mudhif (guesthouse), Iraq, by Wilfred Thesiger, 1958. PRM 2004.130.23229.

Interior of mudhif (guesthouse), Iraq, by Wilfred Thesiger, 1958. PRM 2004.130.23229.

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