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Aga Khan Museum

People, All Asian, Asian Heritage, Museums

Aga Khan Museum graphic

The Aga Khan Museum, due to open in 2011 in Toronto, will be dedicated to the acquisition, preservation and display of artefacts, from various periods and geographies, relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of Islamic communities.

The establishment of the Aga Khan Museum was announced on 8 October 2002 by the Aga Khan Development Network. It will be located on Wynford Drive, off the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto.

The Museum is an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He intends the Museum to be a centre of education and learning dedicated to the presentation of Muslim arts and culture in all their historic, cultural and geographical diversity. The Aga Khan Museum will offer unique insights and new perspectives into Muslim civilizations.

Surrounded by a large landscaped park, the Museum will be housed in a 10,000 square metre building designed by the Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki.

The Museum's collection contains some of the world's most important masterpieces of Islamic art, including the famous collection of miniatures and manuscripts created by the late Prince Sadruddin and his wife Princess Catherine, and objects in stone, wood, ivory and glass, metalwork, ceramics, rare works on paper and parchment. Covering over 1,000 years of history, they create an overview of the artistic accomplishments of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China.

Specific educational programmes on Muslim history, arts and culture will make the Museum a unique space in North America. It will be an institution dedicated to disseminating knowledge of Islamic civilisations through outreach to the widest public school children, students, adults and families, as well as researchers, including educational resources via the internet. The building will house a large auditorium with lecture, film and concert programmes, as well as a library offering direct access to specialized documentation and information from virtual sources.

The Museum's temporary exhibitions, which will be developed in partnership with key international partners, will spotlight the diversity of Islamic arts and cultures.

Beyond the traditional presentation of major periods of Muslim history, original approaches will include, for example, the relationships between Islam and other cultures and the evolution of arts, sciences, religion, literature or music in a Muslim context. In the period leading to its official opening, selections from the Aga Khan Museum's collections are being shown in different European locations in France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Portugal and Italy. They allow the public to have a glimpse of what the Museum will contain, and at the same time bring public attention to the creation of a new institution of international standing.

The Museum is part of a wide range of activities aimed at the preservation and promotion of the material and spiritual heritage of Muslim societies. As the cultural agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) leverages cultural heritage as a means of supporting and catalyzing development. Its programmes include the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, which works to revitalise historic cities in the Muslim world, both culturally and socioeconomically. Over the last decade, it has rehabilitated historic areas in Cairo, Kabul, Herat, Aleppo, Delhi, Zanzibar, Mostar, the Northern Areas of Pakistan, Timbuktu and Mopti.

AKTC also supports the Muslim arts and architecture departments of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as ArchNet.org, a major online resource on Islamic architecture.

His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, celebrates his Golden Jubilee year from 11 July 2007 to 11 July 2008. Fifty years ago, at the age of 20, the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. The Aga Khan is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the first Imam, and his wife Fatima, the Prophet's daughter.

The Aga Khan provides spiritual guidance to a community of 15 million living in 25 countries, mainly in West and Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East as well as in North America and Western Europe.

As Spiritual Leader of the Ismailis, the Aga Khan has emphasised the view of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith, one that teaches compassion and tolerance and that upholds the dignity of man, Allah's noblest creation.



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