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  • Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Souren Melikian (curator of a related exhibition,“Song of the World”) and His Highness the Aga Khan viewing objects from the Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum exhibition at the Louvre, 17 October 2007.
    AKDN / Gary Otte
Aga Khan Trust for Culture collaborates with the Louvre and Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is collaborating with the Louvre on two exhibitions of Islamic art in Paris, as well as with the Museum of Decorative Arts, also in Paris.

At the Louvre, the Trust has collaborated in the preparation of an exhibition entitled "Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum". As the opening event of a season devoted to the arts and culture of the Muslim world, the Louvre presents nearly 80 works from the collections of the Aga Khan Museum in an exhibition curated by Sophie Makariou.

The exhibition includes six rare folios from the Shah-nameh (Book of the Kings) of Shah Tahmasp, the most famous Persian manuscript of the 16th century. It also features magnificently preserved medieval garments. Various examples of calligraphy bear witness to the vitality of the artists of the Islamic world ranging from India to Spain and from the eighth to the nineteenth century.

As Eric Woerth, Minister of the Budget, Henri Loyrette, President and Director of the Louvre
and Christine Albanel, Minister of Culture and Communication look on, His Highness the
Aga Khan signs the official register for Heads of State at the opening of the Exhibition
at the Louvre, 1 October 2007

The thematic conception of the exhibition groups the works presented into four main parts:

• exchanges between the Islamic world, Europe and the Far East;

• from figuration to narrative;

• architectural elements;

• from the Qur’an to the aesthetics of calligraphy, including a section on the Shia tradition.

His Highness the Aga Khan with former French Prime Minister Édouard Balladur at the opening of the "Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum" Exhibition at the Louvre,
1 October 2007

The exhibition provides a preview of the treasures that will be presented at the new Aga Khan Museum, due to be inaugurated in Toronto in 2011. The exhibition presents a model of the future museum, which has been designed by renowned Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. For exhibition times and other details, please visit the Louvre website for information in English and Francais.

The Song of the World - Iranian Safavid Art, 1501-1736

Several masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum collection, including two of the most celebrated pages from the Houghton Shah-nameh (Book of Kings), will also be on display in another exhibition, "The Song of the World - Iranian Safavid Art, 1501-1736" (Le chant du monde - L’art de l’Iran safavide, 1501-1736), which is running from 5 October 2007 to 7 January 2008 in the Louvre's Napoleon Hall. Curated by Professor Souren Melikian-Chirvani, it is the most ambitious exhibition of Safavid art ever to have been brought together, and is expected to attract large numbers of visitors.

Museum of Decorative Arts/Le musée des arts décoratifs

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is also the main sponsor of an exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts entitled “Purs décors? Chefs d’oeuvre de l’Islam aux Arts Décoratifs” (Pure decoration? Islamic masterpieces at the Decorative Arts Museum), which will run from 11 October 2007 to 13 January 2008.

The museum has an outstanding collection of over 3,000 works of Islamic Art, including carpets, textiles, ceramics and miniatures. The exhibition is designed to question the artificial distinction between "fine" arts and "decorative" or "applied" arts – a differentiation particularly impossible to make in the field of Islamic art. When the show is over, almost the whole collection will be handed over on loan to the Louvre.

Exhibition Catalogues

All three exhibitions have very attractive catalogues, which can be purchased from the Louvre and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

For the Louvre exhibitions, please visit the on-line store.

For the Museum of Decorative Arts catalogue, please see the museum's website.

Additional Information

His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, is celebrating his Golden Jubilee year from 11th 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 provides spiritual guidance to a community of 15 million living in some 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. 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 exhibitions at the Louvre showcase the collection of the Aga Khan Museum, which will open in Toronto in 2011. The museum is an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan, (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, who 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. 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 Aga Khan Museum will offer unique insights and new perspectives into Muslim civilisations.

The museum is part of AKTC’s 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), AKTC leverages cultural heritage as a means of supporting and catalysing 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’s other programmes include the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, established 30 years ago to draw attention to outstanding examples of architectural excellence as well as projects which provide solutions for the most acute social needs which exist in Muslim societies. AKTC also supports the Muslim arts and architecture departments of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as, a major online resource on Islamic architecture.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Central and South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The Network’s agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion. Its underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for social and cultural development activities is US$320 million. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, an AKDN development agency that makes long-term investments in fragile economies on a for-profit basis, has annual revenues of over US$ 1.5 billion. Profits are used to fund further development projects.