Syrian glass collection to be displayed for the first time – Scottish Art News


PAISLEY MUSEUM is releasing details of their Syrian glass collection, as today marks five years since the first refugees from Syria arrived in Renfrewshire.

The glass collection dates back well over 2,000 years and has never been on display before.

Paisley Museum team is working closely with some of the town’s refugees to create a modern-day response to its glass collection for a brand-new display.

The group chose 13 pieces of glassware from the 2nd and 3rd century AD including a Syrian glass beaker from Damascus, a brown bulbous bottle decorated in fluorescent and gold, and a purple beaker with a dark feathered design for display.

Future sessions will involve creating interpretation for the display in both Arabic and English, which will incorporate some of the group’s personal stories.

Damascus is known as the birthplace of glass making, with glassblowing still prevalent in the region today. Started over 4,000 years ago, by 200AD Syrian glass was traded throughout Europe.

The glass in the Museum collection was either bequeathed or purchased from local dealers in Baalbek and Damascus in the early 1900s.

The Syrian Glass to go on display in Paisley - Art News Scotland
Syrian Glassware in Paisley Museum’s Collection.

A partnership between a group of Syrian learners and the museum was established through their participation in English language classes delivered by Renfrewshire Council’s Adult Learning and Literacies Services.

The glass was in   Paisley Museum’s collections since the 1940s meaning the glass was in good condition.

The potential significance of the glassware was only recently realised by Research Assistant Joel Fagan whilst moving objects into The Secret Collection.

The Paisley Museum team on the Syrian glass objects - Scottish Art News
L/R Khadeja Alhorani, Jamal Horani and Maryam Alhorani who have been working with the Paisley Museum team on the Syrian glass objects

The display is part of a £42m redevelopment of the museum, which when it reopens, is anticipated to attract upwards of 125,000 visits each year and provide a £79m economic boost to the area over the next 30 years.

Joel Fagan, Research Assistant – World Cultures and Global Perspectives, Paisley Museum Re-Imagined Project said:

“The work we have done with the group will play a key part in bringing Paisley town’s globally-significant collections and history to life and ensuring all of Paisley’s voices are included in our interpretation.

“The Museum’s Syrian glass collection is truly significant and we are looking forward to displaying it for the first time when we open.”

Family members Jamal Horani and Khadeja Alhorani arrived in Paisley from Syria in 2018 and are part of the ESOL group who have been working with the Paisley Museum on the Syrian glass objects.

Jamal said: “We were so happy and surprised to find these pieces made by our ancestors were here in Scotland. We used to collect these types of glass items at home back in Syria and it made me feel quite emotional and proud to find them here.”

Khadeja, added: “We want people to know that we have a great civilisation and that our glass making is known very well across the world. It’s not just the conflict – there are many other good things about our country.”