There are a great number of museums and galleries in the capital of Jordan, and their foci span the gamut from archaeological artefacts to contemporary art pieces. One of the best establishments for investigating the regional offerings in the latter would be the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, which is recognised as being not only one of the best art galleries in the city but also in the nation, having links with many major museums outside of the country.
The overseers of the gallery are the members of the Royal Society of Fine Arts, a non-profit NGO dedicated to the encouragement of cultural and artistic diversity in the region. The gallery’s inauguration was held in 1980, and its original patron was the late King of Jordan, King Hussein bin Talal, as well as his widow, the present Queen Dowager of Jordan. With such esteemed patrons, it is perhaps no great surprise that the establishment is so well-regarded until now.
The gallery has a standing (permanent) collection of over 2000 pieces coming from artists mostly from the Asian and African continents, with a wide range of countries represented, from Algeria to Yemen. It also features a set of artists that are put on highlight every month, and these are referred to as the gallery’s “Artists of the Month”.
Besides these set displays and exhibitions, though, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts is also known for conducting special displays and shows every now and then. Several of these activities are even international or performed with international cooperation. For example, exchanges of art and conversations on artistic developments in the region are regularly facilitated with such international partners as Paris’s UNESCO, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, Rome’s Vittoriano Complex, and Luxembourg’s Centre Culturel de Rencontre. It also typically sends pieces from its collection to other galleries and art centres as well as universities for the purpose of further exposing Islamic and regional art to the international limelight. Some of its most popular exhibitions are those presenting representative pieces of contemporary Jordanian art from local artists and the ones made by female Islamic artists. The latter is of particular interest to most scholars of Islamic culture due to the historic concentration of local arts in the hands of male artists, due largely to cultural constraints.
Nowadays, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts still puts on regular shows both in and out of the country to facilitate better understanding of the artistic sensibilities of this part of the world. You may find the gallery at Jabal Weibdeh (Weibdeh Hill) and can investigate ahead of time what shows or events are scheduled for the month by visiting the gallery’s website at www.nationalgallery.org. Take note that if you are going around the month of Ramadan, you had best check what time the establishment shall be open. At other times of the year, the gallery is typically closed on Fridays and runs working hours from about 9:00hrs to 17:00hrs. During Ramadan, this may be shortened and the gallery may close around 14:00hrs instead.