Ever since childhood, Illinois-based real estate magnate Cameel Halim has been fascinated by the way things work. “I used to take my alarm clock apart,” he confesses. “Although I never put it back together again.” As an adult, his curiosity led him to amass one of the world’s most impressive collections of timepieces and glasswork. This autumn on 26 September, Halim is unveiling a selection of his holdings with the opening of the Halim Time and Glass Museum in Evanston, Illinois. There, visitors can peruse galleries lined with rare automatons and pocket watches, plus an array of 18th-century Chinese clocks. “No place in the world can come close to us outside the Forbidden City’s museum,” says Halim, referring to the remarkable mechanical timepiece collection in Beijing’s Palace Museum. Personally designed by Halim, his wife and three daughters, the displays include video monitors playing each timepiece in motion.
AN AUTOMATON ELEPHANT CLOCK AT THE HALIM TIME AND GLASS MUSEUM.
Also on view are glass mosaics, vases and windows – a testament to the ingenuity of glass production in late 19th-century America. “It was a big revolution,” Halim notes. “Europeans had been creating stained-glass art since the fifth century, but always with one layer of glass that they painted. The Americans were the first to use layers to paint with glass.” Beyond showing famed makers such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, Halim has made an effort to highlight lesser-known glass artists, including Helen Maitland Armstrong, Frederick Lamb and Mary Tillinghast. Halim, who immigrated from Egypt in 1968, is excited to share his collection with his adopted home after twelve years of planning. “I think after you collect for a while, you realise that all these treasures don’t belong to you,” he says. “They’ve been in a lot of hands, and you’re just holding on to them. I think that this really belongs to the public.”
Halim Time and Glass Museum, Evanston, Illinois, opening 26 September 2017.