L. A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art

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L. A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art
The L.A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art is a museum in Jerusalem, Israel, established in 1974. It is located in Katamon, down the road from the Jerusalem Theater. The museum houses Islamic pottery, textiles, jewelry, ceremonial objects and other Islamic cultural artifacts.

The museum was founded by Vera Bryce Salomons, daughter of Sir David Lionel Salomons, in memory of her professor, Leo Aryeh Mayer, rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a scholar of Islamic art who died in 1959. It has nine galleries organized in chronological order, exploring the beliefs and art of Islamic civilization. In addition to Mayer's private collection, the museum houses antique chess pieces, dominos and playing cards; daggers, swords, helmets; textiles; jewelry; glassware, pottery and metalware produced in Islamic countries, from Spain to India. A collection of Islamic carpets was added in 1999.

Rare clock collection
A gallery in the museum also displays the David Salomons clock and watch collection. Salomons was the nephew of the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London.

1983 robbery
On April 15, 1983, more than 200 rare clocks and watches were stolen from the museum. Among the stolen watches was one known as the Marie-Antoinette, the crown jewel of the watch collection made by the French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet on order by Queen Marie Antoinette, it is estimated to be worth $30 million. The heist is considered to be the largest robbery in Israel. The man responsible for the robbery was Naaman Diller. In August 2006, an antiquities dealer in Tel Aviv contacted the museum to report that some of the watches were being held by a Tel Aviv lawyer whose client had inherited them from her deceased husband and wished to return them to the museum. A later search of a warehouse in Israel produced documents leading to safety deposit boxes in around Israel, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States all owned by Diller. Diller later died, and he confessed on his deathbed to his wife, Nili Shomrat, that he was responsible for the theft. Shomrat, who was living in the United States, was arrested in May 2008 after a house search by Israeli and American investigators in her home found several of the stolen clocks and some rare paintings from the 18th century which was also part of the Institute's collection. Also found were catalog cards from some of the pieces featuring the name of the clocks and their manufacturers. On November 18, 2008, French and Israeli police officials discovered half of the cache of stolen timepieces in two bank safes in France. Of the 106 rare timepieces stolen in 1983, 96 have now been recovered. Among those recovered was the rare Marie-Antoinette watch. On April 3, 2010, Shomrat was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and given a five-year suspended sentence for possession of stolen property.

Contemporary Arab art
In 2008, a group exhibit of contemporary Arab art opened at L.A. Mayer Institute, the first show of local Arab art in an Israeli museum and the first to be mounted by an Arab curator. Thirteen Arab artists participated in the show.