Hyderabad can soon boast of an exclusive Islamic Art Gallery. Work is on at the Salarjung Museum (SJM) here to put up a huge gallery which will have everything about Islamic art under one roof.

The 26,000 sq ft gallery is being readied on the second floor of the Museum's eastern block at a cost of Rs.4 crore.

The SJM plans to display more than 2,500 exhibits such as swords, textiles, manuscripts, Persian carpets, holy Quran, jade, porcelain and glass objects containing Quranic inscriptions in the new gallery. At present, these objects are on display in different galleries.

“The British Museum and Victoria Albert Museum in London have an Islamic art gallery. In India, no museum has such a gallery,” said A. Nagender Reddy, director, SJM.

The SJM library is a veritable treasure trove of rare books and manuscripts. It has more than 56,000 books and around 9,000 manuscripts in different languages. Visitors will now be able to see all of the 2,600 Arabic manuscript collection, 4,800 Persian, 1,000 Urdu, 25 Turkish and nearly 1,400 lose panels of calligraphy at one place.

Not just this. The SJM library has a rich collection of the holy Quran. It has 365 copies of Al Quran in Kufi, Naskh, Nataliq, Raihan and Thulth scripts. Most of these are illustrated and decorated. A jade ‘rehal' (book stand) and ‘zafar takia' are something to look at.

The SJM boasts of the oldest folio of Quran on parchment in the Kufi script belonging to the ninth century representing rare calligraphy work. The miniature Quran measuring two cm. by three cm. printed in 31 folios is simply awe-inspiring. There are only two such small Qurans – one in Iran and another at SJM. All these will be shifted to the new gallery.

Authorities also propose to shift the Egyptian and Syrian collections and the 200-odd rosaries to the new gallery. The prayer beads are now languishing in the museum store. Also, the archer rings of the Moghal king, Shahjhan, which are in dark green jade will find place in the Islamic art gallery.

At present, the museum artefacts are categorised as Indian art, Middle Eastern art, European and Far Eastern collection. “Now we want to present all the Islamic art at one place,” Mr. Reddy said.