The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada is the first museum in North America dedicated to the arts of Muslim civilizations.
Opened in 2014 at Ottawa in Canada, the Aga Khan Museum is home to over 1,000 masterpieces showcasing the arts of Muslim civilizations from the Iberian Peninsula to China. Its dynamic collection of manuscripts, scientific instruments, paintings, ceramics, and metalwork continues to evolve through new acquisitions.
Now spanning the 8th to the 21st centuries, this Collection shows the enduring power of tradition in contemporary art. Its mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage.
Through education, research, and collaboration, the Museum will foster dialogue and promote tolerance and mutual understanding among people. As a vibrant educational institution, the Museum encourages the full spectrum of public engagement with its diverse Permanent Collection of more than 1,000 objects and its ever-changing roster of exhibitions and innovative programs – including music and dance performances, theatre, lectures, workshops, and film screenings.
The Aga Khan Museum has an international mandate. It maintains strong ties with such institutions as the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. It is also deeply committed to forging relationships with Canadian institutions and communities. Together, these global and local connections generate exciting opportunities to enhance scholarship, inspire temporary exhibitions, and produce public programs honouring the spirit of collaboration upon which the Museum is built.
In designing the Aga Khan Museum, Fumihiko Maki, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, used light as his inspiration. He ensured not only that light is ever-present in the building, but that, depending on the time of day or season, light will animate the building in myriad ways: throwing patterns on the exterior walls of Brazilian granite, enhancing interior spaces, or illuminating the open-roofed courtyard.
The building’s compact footprint — 81 metres long and 54 metres wide — contains an impressive variety of spaces, including two exhibition galleries, areas for art conservation and storage, a 350-seat theatre, and two classrooms. Within an unmistakably contemporary design, Maki incorporates historical elements originating in Islamic cultures, building bridges between eras as well as civilizations. Across from the Museum is The Ismaili Centre, Toronto, designed by renowned architect Charles Correa.
The Centre incorporates spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and for spiritual reflection. Its crystalline frosted glass dome roof, which marks the highest point of the 6.8-hectare site, is mirrored in the five granite-lined pools of the formal gardens — designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic — which are part of a landscaped park. The Aga Khan Park connects the Centre with the Museum and provides a place equally suited to tranquil reflection and dynamic programming.