From exotic treasures to historical works of art, museum curators and enthusiastic collectors searched for the glories of the past.
The early collector of Islamic art is often referred to as an educated amateur. A closed circle of enthusiasts reviewed exhibitions in search of great works of art to furnish their homes. A network of dealers in the Middle East, especially in Cairo, but also in Europe including Spain, contributed to the formation of private collections. Many of the collections were donated or formed the basis for museum collections. The same network of dealers, however, offered works of art directly to museum representatives, a number of whom travelled for this specific purpose.