14 December 2015

Aga Khan Museum

The elegantly designed museum was opened not long ago as the first North American home for the culture, arts, and artifacts of Muslim civilizations. An exciting contribution to Toronto and Canadian life! It's an initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a part of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a non-denominational organization working to improve living conditions in the developing world.

His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. In Islam’s ethical tradition, religious leaders not only interpret the faith but also have a responsibility to help improve the quality of life in their community and in the societies amongst which they live. For His Highness, this has meant a deep engagement with development for over fifty years through the agencies of the AKDN. [from the website]

In the museum's main floor gallery are items from its permanent collections a variety of manuscripts, ceramics, metal work, architectural design details, and other objects. Taking a regular gallery tour enriches the experience.

(... camel sighting ...)
Precious ceramics are displayed in the main floor gallery as well as in the Bellerive Room.

You can use your camera on the main floor and on the extensive grounds. Changing supplementary exhibitions are featured on the second floor, for example in September 2015, the fascinating "A Thirst for Riches: Carpets from the East in Paintings of the West" (carpets to drool over but not photograph) and a second exhibit of contemporary art in various forms including photography, from Sharjah (United Arab Emirates).

The illustrated calligraphy is stunning.

Historical and mythological figures.

Bowl crafted from a coconut shell!

The museum is a learning centre as well; lectures, films, music, performances, and workshops are all part of the programming. The small gift shop has some exquisite reproductions and books (an e-shop is now available here). I didn't try the Diwan restaurant, open for lunch only (yummy-looking menu), but a special series of dinner with jazz is currently popular. In the light-filled atrium is a cafe for light snacks.

My photos do not do it justice!

© 2015 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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