The Aga Khan Museum, opened September 2014 in Toronto, Canada, is the first museum in North America dedicated to the arts and the cultures of the world of Islam. Founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, the Museum is dedicated to the acquisition, preservation and display of artifacts – from various periods and geographies – relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of communities in the world of Islam. Through art, performances, exhibitions,
research, education and collaboration with other leading international
institutions, the Aga Khan Museum promotes knowledge of the contributions of
Islamic civilizations to world heritage.
The Museum collection contains over one thousand artefacts and artworks and spans over one thousand years of history. The objects – in ceramic, metalwork, ivory, stone and wood, textile and carpet, glass and rock crystal objects, parchment and illustrated paintings on paper – present an overview of the artistic accomplishments of civilizations of Islam from the Iberian Peninsula to China.
Housed in a innovative new building, the Museum allows the public to experience the living traditions of these societies as well as their artistic and cultural practices. The Museum was designed by the renowned Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. The abstract notion of light and the light of human creativity and openness were sources of inspiration for the design of the Aga Khan Museum. Maki’s design is contained in a 10,000m² building within a simple rectilinear footprint 81 metres long by 54 metres wide. The four primary functions (exhibition spaces, an auditorium, classrooms and workshops, and library and media-centre) revolve around a central courtyard, which acts as the heart of the building and integrates the different functions into a cohesive whole while allowing each space to maintain its independence, privacy, and character.
The Museum shares the site with the Ismaili Centre, designed by Charles Correa, and is surrounded by a ten-hectare landscaped park, designed by Vladimir Djurovic. Together, they constitute important landmarks and green space for the city of Toronto.
Junod, Benoit and Alnoor Merchant, editors. “Spirit and Life Exhibition
Catalogue." Geneva: Aga Khan Trust for Culture, 2007.
The exhibitionSpirit and Lifewas presented in London in July-August 2007 and
brought together 168 art works from the Aga Khan Museum collection.
Manuscripts, calligraphies, miniatures, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, objects
of wood, stone, mother-of-pearl and precious jewels, they all come the Muslim
world at its full extension, from Spain to the Far East. They have been
organised into three main themes: the Word of God, Great Historical Courts, and
the Path of Princes.
The 200+ page catalogue, in full colour, follows the
sequence of the exhibition with not only full images of all the objects, but
many enlargements of details. It contains a foreword by His Highness the Aga
Khan, a preface by Luis Monreal, General Manager of AKTC, and an explanation of
the historical context by Azim Nanji, Director of theInstituteofIsmaili Studies. The introduction is by one of the
foremost experts on Islamic Arts, Dr. Sheila Canby of the Near East Department,BritishMuseum.
The catalogue entries are by Dr. Aimée Froom, former curator of Islamic art at
the Brooklyn Museum, New York. The catalogue contains a timeline and glossary
specially prepared by Alnoor Merchant, Institute of Ismaili Studies,London, and a double-gatefold map of the Islamic world
showing the provenance of many objects in the exhibition.