Surrounded by a large landscaped park, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto will be housed in a 10,000 square-metre building designed by the Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki.
Photo: Maki & AssociatesMuseums are no longer merely repositories of culture, but vital educational institutions that can have a profound effect on public discourse. Museums can testify to the existence of other cultures and faiths in ways that go beyond the written or spoken word. They provide evidence of other realities, other histories and other influences beyond the ones we might have learned or perceived.
At their best, museums champion diversity, pluralism, the exchange of ideas and the enrichment of the intellect. Exhibitions provide tools for communication. Objects in an exhibition are like a code which can be deciphered through careful study. Through the reality of objects, we learn about other cultures. And through the language of objects, we find a common understanding. From understanding comes the revelation of a common humanity – one that dotes on its children, loves and fears the loss of love, struggles with the obstacles of youth and then of age, pursues knowledge and meaning and that, eventually, yearns for transcendence.
"Many questions are currently being raised in the West about the Muslim world, with countless misconceptions and misunderstandings occurring between our contemporary societies. I hope that this exhibition will hold a special significance at a time which calls for enlightened encounters amongst faiths and cultures.”
His Highness the Aga Khan speaking at the inauguration of the “Sacred Art and Music of the Muslim World” Exhibition in Parma, Italy, 30 March 2007.The Aga Khan Museum, which will open in Toronto in 2013, is intended 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 civilisations. Manuscripts in the collection will include the earliest known copy of Avicenna’s Qanun fi’l-Tibb (The Canon of Medicine) dated 1052.
The museum is part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s wide range of activities aimed at the preservation and promotion of the material and spiritual heritage of Muslim societies. Two other museums are also being built: The Museum of Historic Cairo, dedicated to the discovery of Muslim heritage in the heart of Islamic Cairo, and the Indian Ocean Maritime Museum in Zanzibar, which will explore the history and cultures of the Indian Ocean – Indian, Arab, African and European.
Aga Khan Museum
Aga Khan Museum Project Brief (2010)
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