Poetry has always been an essential part of the Arab conscience, and a witness to the heritage and history of the Arab and Islamic world. The city of Baghdad sat at the heart of the Islamic Caliphate during the five centuries of Abbasid rule, a time when the sciences, art, music and literature — including poetry — flourished.
The development of the city inspired the imagination of the poets, who were part of a cultural, economic and intellectual centre during the so-called Golden Age. It was the place where reputations of writers and poets were made, and the libraries of the city stood open to aspiring talents.
The physical traces of medieval Baghdad have been lost to time, so the curators of the exhibition Baghdad: Eye's Delight relied heavily on historical texts, especially poetry, to reimagine what that great city was once like. Poetry also inspired the title of the exhibition, which comes from a verse uttered by Amr ibn Abd al-Malik al-Warraq in the early ninth century: