While the global pandemic placed constraints on the movement of people, it provided an opportunity to intensify the flow of ideas. These constraints allowed for new ways of collaborations to develop. Collaborations that are not limited by geography or physical proximity. The Archival Alliance: Discovering Arabic Book Covers is one such example that creative expressions can be born out of shared challenges that forge new connections.
The Arabic Design Archive (ADA) and McGill University’s Islamic Studies Library (ISL) engaged in a year long collaboration producing this exhibition. The ISL offered a portion of its rich Arabic books collection to enhance and promote the work of the ADA. Over the past few years, the ADA has been working on the digitization and preservation of Arab graphic history drawn from the mid-1930s to mid-1990s. One of the objectives is to create a digital archive for both inspirational and scholarly purposes. The ADA has benefited from various crowdsourcing opportunities, such as the contributions from the Islamic Studies Library’s immense holdings of Arabic books.
The Archival Alliance: Discovering Arabic Book Covers exhibition seeks to highlight and broaden the concept of the histories of graphic design beyond Western contributions to present the wealth of design work produced in the Arab World. Including both a physical display and a touch table experience, the exhibit will take visitors through the history of Arabic books covers design between 1970 and 2000. Displayed from September 15th to November 15th, 2022, this exhibition is co-curated by the Islamic Studies Library and the Arabic Design Archive.