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Museums 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.

When the AKDN becomes involved in museum projects, therefore, it conceives of these projects not as repositories of objects but as educational institutions that fosters dialogue and promotes tolerance and mutual understanding among people.


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.

The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, for example, was conceived to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contributions that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage. It contains over one thousand artefacts and artworks and spans over one thousand years of history, but it is designed – and curated – to present an overview of the artistic accomplishments of Muslim civilisations  from the Iberian Peninsula to China.

In response to a dramatic increase in visitors to Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture is constructing a state-of-the-art site museum at the entrance to the Tomb. The Museum’s aims include a better understanding of Mughal architecture, its associated building craft traditions, and the development of the Nizamuddin area’s pluralist cultural traditions, which defined Hindustani culture for at least five centuries.
The Trust is also involved in a number of other museum-related initiatives, bringing its expertise to projects that range from planning for the revitalisation of a national museum to smaller site museums devoted to particular subjects, such as mud architecture or the maritime trade.

Please also see the Aga Khan Museum website and information on Humayun's Tomb.



AKDN lead agency in Museums: