Aga Khan Museum

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Aga Khan Museum
Musée Aga Khan
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
EstablishedSeptember 18, 2014 (2014-09-18)
Location77 Wynford Drive
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates43°43′32″N 79°19′55″W / 43.725429°N 79.331997°W / 43.725429; -79.331997Coordinates: 43°43′32″N 79°19′55″W / 43.725429°N 79.331997°W / 43.725429; -79.331997
TypeMuslim arts and culture
Collection size1,000
DirectorHenry Kim
Public transit accessBSicon BUS1.svg  100 
BSicon TRAM.svg TTC - Line 5.svg Aga Khan Park (opening 2021)

The Aga Khan Museum (French: Musée Aga Khan) is a museum of Islamic art, Iranian (Persian) art and Muslim culture in the North York district of Toronto, Ontario, 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 artifacts 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.


The building of the museum was designed by Fumihiko Maki.

In 1996, the Aga Khan bought the property 77 Wynford Drive from Shell Corporation. In 2002, he bought the adjacent property, which was formerly the Bata Shoes Head Office. On October 8, 2002, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) announced the establishment of the Aga Khan Museum, Ismaili Centre and Park on the site.[2] Although heritage groups wanted it preserved, the modernist Bata Shoes building was demolished in 2007 to make way for the project. The foundation-laying ceremony for the project was performed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Aga Khan on May 28, 2010.[3]

The museum was designed by 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.[4] The extensive site is shared with a new Ismaili Centre designed by the Indian architect Charles Correa.[5] 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.[6]

The museum opened on September 18, 2014.[7]


Works from the museum's collection are displayed in exhibits throughout the museum.

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.[4] 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 socio-economic 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.[4]

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.[4] 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.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The museum appeared in the Star Trek: Discovery episode "Lethe", where it was used as a filming location for scenes on the planet Vulcan.
  • The scientific conference in the film Downsizing was also filmed at the museum.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New Aga Khan Museum To Showcase Cultural Contributions of Muslim Civilisations". Artlyst. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "Aga Khan to Establish Major Academic and Cultural Center and Museum in Canada" (Press release). Aga Khan Development Network. October 8, 2002. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2009.
  3. ^ "Mawlana Hazar Imam is awarded Honorary Canadian Citizenship as he is joined by Prime Minister for Foundation Ceremony in Toronto". May 28, 2010. Archived from the original on June 1, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Correa, Maki Tapped to Design Aga Khan Center". Architectural Record, The McGraw-Hill Companies. October 6, 2008. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2008.
  6. ^ Rochon, Lisa. "Maki's Aga Khan Museum Makes its Debut". Architectural Record. October 2014, pp. 25-26.
  7. ^ Rochon, Lisa: "Maki's Aga Khan Museum Makes Its Debut", in The Architectural Record, September 19, 2014
  8. ^ Mehnaz Thawer (May 20, 2010). "Aga Khan Museum Collection reflects pluralism of the Muslim world and shared human heritage". Archived from the original on May 24, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  9. ^ "Sacred Art and Music of the Muslim World in Parma, Italy" (Press release). Aga Khan Development Network. March 30, 2007. Archived from the original on April 19, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2007.
  10. ^ "Splendori a Corte". Archived from the original on May 24, 2007.
  11. ^ a b Renzetti, Elizabeth (July 11, 2007). "A stunning debut for Toronto-bound Treasures of Islam". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on August 24, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  12. ^ "Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum". Louvre. Archived from the original on December 10, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  13. ^ "The Path of Princes: Masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum Collection". Museu Calouste Gulbenkian. Archived from the original on March 19, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2008.
  14. ^ "Catorce siglos de arte islámico". Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  15. ^ "Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum, Masterpieces of Islamic Art Exhibition". Martin-Gropius-Bau. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
  16. ^ "Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Arts of the Book and Calligraphy". MSakıp Sabancı Museum. Archived from the original on January 23, 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  17. ^ "Architecture in Islamic art: treasures of the collection of Aga Khan". The Hermitage. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  18. ^ "Islamic treasures go on show in Italy". Middle East Online. March 24, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2007.

External links[edit]