Aga Khan Museum

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Aga Khan Museum
Aga Khan Museum in Toronto- Exterior.jpg
Exterior view of the Aga Khan Museum
Aga Khan Museum is located in Toronto
Aga Khan Museum
Location of the museum in Toronto
Established 18 September 2014 (2014-09-18)
Location 77 Wynford Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates 43°43′32″N 79°19′55″W / 43.725429°N 79.331997°W / 43.725429; -79.331997
Type Muslim arts and culture
Director Henry Kim
White facade with dramatic entrance.
The front of the museum is reflected in a square black stone reflecting pond
The interior courtyard is a traditional feature of Islamic architecture.
The stark white entrance to the museum at night

The Aga Khan Museum (French: Musée Aga Khan) is a museum of Islamic art, Iranian (Persian) art and Muslim culture in Toronto, Canada.[1] The museum is an initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network. It houses collections of Islamic art and heritage, including artefacts from the private collections of His Highness the Aga Khan, the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, and Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan, which showcase the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions of Muslim civilizations.


In 1996 The Aga Khan bought the property 77 Wynford Drive from Shell Corporation. In 2002 he bought the adjacent property which together make up the Aga Khan Museum, Ismaili Centre and Park. Soon after the Aga Khan Development Network announced the establishment of these 3 projects on October 8, 2002. In 2007, the modernist Bata Shoes Head Office was controversially demolished to make way for the Ismaili centre, the Aga Khan Museum and Park. The foundation ceremony of the Aga Khan Museum, together with the adjacent Ismaili Centre, Toronto and the park in which the two will be situated, was performed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Aga Khan on May 28, 2010.[2] The establishment of the three projects had previously been announced on October 8, 2002 by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).[3] The museum opened on September 18, 2014.[4]

Architecturally, the museum is a design of Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki. The 10,000 square-metre structure is set within formal gardens and surrounded by a large park (Aga Khan Park) designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic.[5] The extensive site is shared with a new Ismaili Centre designed by the Indian architect Charles Correa.[6] Maki, Djurovic and Correa worked in collaboration with the Toronto-based architectural firm Moriyama and Teshima, who worked as the architect of record on the project. [7]


The museum is dedicated to the acquisition, preservation, display and interpretation of artefacts relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious traditions of Muslim communities, past and present. Artefacts include ceramics, metalwork, and paintings covering all periods of Islamic history. Manuscripts in the collection include the earliest known copy of Avicenna’s Qanun fi’l-Tibb (The Canon of Medicine) dated 1052.[5] A music programme is planned, which will work to expand knowledge of the traditional music of Asia and the Islamic world, as well as their contemporary expression.

The museum will become a repository of historical materials related to the Ismaili community and house research programmes related to each one of the aspects of its institutional mission. It will also provide a space for permanent exchanges between the Islamic and the Western worlds on educational, cultural and socioeconomic issues.

The collection, which comprises some 1,000 objects,[8] includes several superb examples of Qur'an manuscripts that demonstrate the variety of script, media and decorative styles that evolved in the Muslim world. Among them, an eighth century North African folio demonstrates the earliest style of Kufic script written on parchment. A page from the well known Blue Qur'an provides an example of gold kufic script on indigo-dyed parchment. The Blue Qur'an is considered one of the most extraordinary Qur'an manuscripts ever created; its origins are 9th-tenth century North African, and it was likely created for the Fatimid caliphs ruling from Qayrawan.[5]

European tour[edit]

While a permanent home was being built for the collection, selected items went on tour in Europe. Exhibitions took place at the following institutions:

The exhibits received wide international acclaim.[11][18] The exhibit conveys both Dīn and Dunya, which can be translated as ‘Spirit & Life’ — the religious and secular aspects of life which are inextricably linked in Muslim cultures.[5] The first exhibitions were organized in two parts: The Word of God consisting of sacred texts and related objects and The Power of the Sovereign reflecting Muslim courts and their figures. More recent exhibitions have been organized as The Word of God and The Route of the Travellers showing the geographic breadth of the Islamic world.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Aga Khan Museum To Showcase Cultural Contributions of Muslim Civilisations". Artlyst. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Mawlana Hazar Imam is awarded Honorary Canadian Citizenship as he is joined by Prime Minister for Foundation Ceremony in Toronto". 28 May 2010. Archived from the original on 1 June 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Aga Khan to Establish Major Academic and Cultural Center and Museum in Canada" (Press release). Aga Khan Development Network. 2002-10-08. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  4. ^ Rochon, Lisa: "Maki's Aga Khan Museum Makes Its Debut", in The Architectural Record, 19 September 2014
  5. ^ a b c d e Spirit & Life: Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum Collection. Switzerland: The Aga Khan Trust for Culture. 2007. ISBN 978-2-940212-02-6. 
  6. ^ "Correa, Maki Tapped to Design Aga Khan Center". Architectural Record, The McGraw-Hill Companies. 2008-10-06. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  7. ^ Rochon, Lisa. “Maki’s Aga Khan Museum Makes its Debut”. Architectural Record. October 2014, pp. 25-26.
  8. ^ Mehnaz Thawer (20 May 2010). "Aga Khan Museum Collection reflects pluralism of the Muslim world and shared human heritage". Archived from the original on 24 May 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Sacred Art and Music of the Muslim World in Parma, Italy" (Press release). Aga Khan Development Network. 2007-03-30. Archived from the original on 19 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  10. ^ "Splendori a Corte". 
  11. ^ a b Renzetti, Elizabeth (2007-07-11). "A stunning debut for Toronto-bound Treasures of Islam". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  12. ^ "Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum". Louvre. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  13. ^ "The Path of Princes: Masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum Collection". Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. Archived from the original on 19 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  14. ^ "Catorce siglos de arte islámico". Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  15. ^ "Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum, Masterpieces of Islamic Art Exhibition". Martin-Gropius-Bau. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  16. ^ "Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Arts of the Book and Calligraphy". MSakıp Sabancı Museum. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  17. ^ "Architecture in Islamic art: treasures of the collection of Aga Khan". The Hermitage. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  18. ^ "Islamic treasures go on show in Italy". Middle East Online. 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 

External links[edit]