Sir David is considered the world’s leading cultural philanthropist. He is a collector of collections, and the first to utilise art and culture in the pursuit of greater understanding, appreciation, and respect between those of different faiths and cultures. As an Iranian Jew who has assembled the world’s largest collection of Islamic Art , he has been referred to by HM Government as “the embodiment of interfaith harmony”.
Since the 1970s Sir David has assembled a collection of Islamic art of more than 28,000 objects. Including an outstanding array of manuscripts of the Holy Qur’an, illustrated manuscripts, ceramics, textiles, glass, seals, coins, and metalwork, the collection documents the artistic production and the art of calligraphy of Islamic lands over a period of 1,400 years, and is considered one of the greatest collections of Islamic art in existence.
Hajj and The Arts of Pilgrimage is another remarkable collection, containing over 4000 objects including more than 300 textiles and many other related objects associated with Mecca and Medina. Combined, the collection is the largest of its type outside the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul.
By assembling, conserving and sharing these sacred objects, Sir David has enabled people all over the world to access and enjoy the cultural history and creative mastery of this great tradition and civilization.
Each work of art in the Khalili Collections has been meticulously conserved, researched, catalogued and published as part of what is considered to be one of the most ambitious art scholarship projects in modern history. Eighty of over a hundred planned volumes have already been published, edited by Sir David and with contributions from the world’s leading experts in each respective field.
In partnership with Google Arts & Culture, the Khalili collections are proud to present A Visual History of the Hajj, a curated experience of 1400 years of Islamic pilgrimage, for audiences of all over the world to explore.
An early 20th Century photograph of The Baqi' Cemetery (Khalili Collections)
A Visual History of the Hajj is available here
Explore other online exhibitions and over 1,000 sacred objects from The Khalili Collections in Google Arts and Culture and on the Khalili collections website here.
Sir David is a leading voice in the global movement to advance peace, unity and mutual respect worldwide. His philanthropic and humanitarian work, channelled through the Khalili Foundation, has been recognised globally.
These initiatives and Sir David's tireless efforts are driven by a deep-seated conviction that cultural philanthropy has the power to foster interfaith harmony and unite a broken world as one global family.