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Arabian Exhibit Update

Editor’s note: The following letter is reprinted with permission from the Kentucky Horse Park’s July 1 HORSeNEWS newsletter.




Museum Director Bill Cooke in Saudi Arabia earlier
this year, meeting to discuss the exhibition with
Dr. Saad al Rachid, Former Chair of the Dept. of
Archaeology, King Saud University, and Former Saudi
Deputy Minister of Antiquities and Museums.



Dear Friend of the Kentucky Horse Park:


The Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation has agreed to become the presenting sponsor of a major international exhibition and film entitled, A Gift from the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse. The exhibition will be produced by and held in our International Museum of the Horse in 2010, so people from around the world will have an opportunity to view it during the 2010 Games.


The $2.35 million donation represents the largest ever received by the museum for an exhibition and will be the third blockbuster exhibition this decade.


Considering the inexpressible beauty of the Arabian horse and the rich and ancient culture surrounding it, it’s easy to understand why we are so excited to have received this magnanimous gift from the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation to assist in funding this project. In a world where differences between cultures are often the cause of fear and scorn, this project on the other hand will be a celebration of a common bond that unites people of widely divergent backgrounds: the mutual love and admiration that we all share for the glorious Arabian horse.



A Gift from the Desert will be the first major exhibition to explore the dynamic impact of the horse on Near Eastern civilization, with particular emphasis on the Arabian horse.


It will be a fascinating journey from the arrival of the first domesticated horses in the Near East to the renaissance of purebred Arabian horse breeding today. It will also explore:


§         the impact of the horse on the development of early Near Eastern civilizations,


§         the significance of the horse in chariot warfare and the development of early cavalry,


§         the origins of the proto-Arabian horse and its refinement by the Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula into a true breed and the impact of the Arabian horse on the creation and refinement of other breeds,


§         the dispersal of the Arabian horse throughout the world,


§         the modern Arabian horse and its resurgence in the Near East today.


Geographically, the exhibition and film will concentrate on the

Near East, covering the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and Iran.


The 9,000 square foot exhibition will contain between 300 to 350 artifacts and works of art. Material will be solicited from prominent Near Eastern museums, academic institutions and private collections, as well as from prominent American and European collections.


The one-hour film will be produced and directed by Ms. Jo Franklin, President of Seacastle Films. She is noted for her eight highly acclaimed productions on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Near East, all of which appeared in prime-time broadcasts on the Public Broadcasting Service in the U.S. Ms. Franklin is also an owner and rider of Arabian horses.


Bill Cooke, the director of our International Museum of the Horse, deserves a huge round of applause for his efforts in acquiring this generous gift from the Saudis. Bill and I also join in expressing our gratitude to The Pyramid Society, Judi Forbis, Christie Metz, Cynthia Culbertson, and our founding donors for their considerable contributions toward this project, which we will look forward to with great anticipation. It will also give horse lovers around the world one more great reason to attend the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games here at the park in 2010.



John Nicholson

Executive Director


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