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By Randy Kennedy

While Texas may have the fifth largest Muslim population in the United States by some estimates, its public art collections have only recently begun to reflect the 14-century sweep of Islamic history. But on Friday, with the stroke of a pen — sealing a complex agreement hashed out over months — the Dallas Museum of Art will become the long-term custodian of one of the most important collections of Islamic art in private hands.

The Keir Collection, amassed over decades in Britain byEdmund de Unger, a Hungarian real-estate magnate who died in 2011, will go to Dallas for at least 15 years beginning in May, under an unusual long-term renewable loan that will give the museum the right to lend pieces to other institutions and to make objects widely available to scholars. The agreement will instantly give Dallas, which now has only a few dozen Islamic pieces, perhaps the third most important Islamic collection in the country, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington. [Read more…]