An exhibition of Islamic art from the collection of St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum has arrived in the capital of Tatarstan. Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky and Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev opened the exhibit at the Kazan culture center on Wednesday. The Hermitage Museum boasts one of the world's richest collections of Islamic art. Mr. Piotrovsky said at the opening ceremony that as many as 145 works of the decorative arts, architecture, ceramics and tapestry had been brought along to Kazan. The exhibition spans a rather long historical period-the 7th through the 19th centuries AD-and features various art centers of the Moslem world-from Spain to southern Italy to northern India. On view at Kazan are well-preserved 15th-to-19th century handwritten copies of the Koran, illuminated manuscripts and examples of calligraphy from Iran and Central Asia of the 17th to the 19th centuries, cases for the Koran, carved wooden supports for books, and other ornamental objects. The idea behind the exhibition is, on the one hand, to demonstrate the integrity and universality of Moslem art as a global phenomenon and, on the other, to show its affinity to other systems of art and other aesthetic concepts and images of the world. The Kazan culture center is now also hosting a display entitled "Monuments of Early and Modern Islamic Arts from Museum Collections of the Republic of Tatarstan." The display's alternative title is "Islam of the Volga Region." It features collections of historical and cultural monuments of the Tatar people that date from the period of the region's Islamization (that is, the 8th and the 9th centuries) onward. Some 300 items have been temporarily borrowed from museums all across Tatarstan to be displayed in its capital city.