Connections: Aga Khan Museum

Via Connections, Ismaili Mail introduces a new series specifically highlighting some of the international partnerships and programs of the Aga Khan Museum (AKM). Over the course of the last decade several extensive exhibitions have been commissioned for audiences in Europe and Asia. In addition to that, smaller special but focused international preview exhibitions are now underway in US and Middle East cities.

Watch the 10 minute YouTube video below to learn about the impact these special exhibitions have created as it tours across the various European cities (Parma, London, Paris, Lisbon) during its early days. In the video, you will get an opportunity to see and hear as Mowlana Hazar Imam discusses the genesis of the AKM initiative; Prince Amyn speaks about the promise of peace through the arts; Alnoor Merchant explains the various components of the collection; and Luis Monreal reflects on promotion of the AKM collection, experimentation of the exhibition at various global venues and design learning from various curators and audiences. You will also note Prince Charles and Camilla hosted by Mowlana Hazar Imam at the London Exhibition.

Building on the Aga Khan Museum’s mission to inform, educate, inspire, we will endeavor to bring our patrons stories related to the Islamic Arts and Sciences – small steps to accelerate the awareness of faith inspired Muslim contributions from around the world to human civilization. Highlighting some of these themes were the dedicated feature publications by The Ismaili Canada (July 2010 issue) and more recently The Ismaili USA (December 2013 issue).

The Ismaili Canada & USA publications - Aga Khan Museum dedicated issues.
The Ismaili Canada & USA publications – Aga Khan Museum dedicated issues.

Since 2000 world wide trend and interest in Islamic art and culture has been increasing, slow in some regions and making quantum leaps in others. What is encouraging is that some of the world’s leading museums have taken a lead role in giving serious attention and prominence to Islamic Civilization collections. Here are a couple of examples of museums who have taken up multi-year renovations (5-8 years) to bring Islamic Arts Collections to the forefront:

I. Musée du Louvre, Paris – The Department of Islamic Art is the newest department. Created in 2003, its refurbishment has been underway since 2008. Reopened in September 2012 in a completely new, restyled setting, 18,000 works of art will be provided with a space befitting their prominence within the museum.

Design of the Louvre's new Islamic Art Wing   Click to view additional information and videos.
Design of the Louvre’s new Islamic Art Wing
Click to view additional information and videos.

II. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – On November 1, 2011, the Department of Islamic Art reopened its fifteen galleries after an eight-year renovation. The new galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia were completely renovated, expanded, and reorganized in accordance with current thinking in the field and with modern museological practices. The new galleries house the collection of the Museum’s Department of Islamic Art, more than 12,000 works of art acquired through gift and purchase over the entire span of the Museum’s 140-year history.

The Damascus Room part of the 15 Islamic Galleries at the MET.  Click to view additional information and videos.
The Damascus Room part of the 15 Islamic Galleries at the MET.
Click to view additional information and videos.

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