DAWN (Pakistan) | Aga Khan Museum: A glimpse of magnificence

The landscape park that surrounds the built-up space of the Aga Khan Museum compels the visitor to drink in the neat, angular lines of the building itself. The sheer space is breathtaking and the open expanse of the palatial gardens, an indication of the grandeur housed within.

Comprising over a 1000 art objects, the Museum collection has the novelty of presenting pieces of art from private collections from Geneva, Paris and London, hitherto not seen by the public — though only 250 or so will be on display at any one time since the exhibits are going to be rotated.

… the use of space at the Museum creates an aura of its own. It reflects a kind of contained splendour, seemingly withholding its magnificence for modesty’s sake.

– Maheen A. Rashidi, Dawn

A six meters long tapestry ‘Your Way Begins’ by Aisha Khalid <br> (Photo via Dawn/ Aga Khan Museum)
A six meters long tapestry ‘Your Way Begins’ by Aisha Khalid
(Photo via Dawn/ Aga Khan Museum)

Aga Khan Museum: A glimpse of magnificence

By Maheen A. Rashidi. Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, November 2nd, 2014 07:07am

Spread across an area of nearly seven hectares, is a Toronto land site that lies just off the Don Valley Parkway North exit, a major highway connecting downtown Toronto to the northern suburbs of the city. This particular area is a shared space where the newly designed building of the Aga Khan Museum now stands along with the Ismaili Centre of Toronto and a beautiful expanse of garden and park area.

The Museum brochure asserts that these distinctive structures are, “…emblems of the cultural, spiritual and natural worlds in peaceful coexistence. They represent a harmonious ideal that is central to the traditions of Islam.”

Connection to Karachi, Pakistan

The slanting projection of the façade is reminiscent of one of the most prominent structures in Karachi — the Aga Khan University and Hospital. But instead of the red brick, white, Brazilian granite characterises the walls of this edifice, designed by Fumihiko Maki of Maki and Associates from Tokyo.

Connection to Pakistan’s Artistic Talent

There are two Temporary collections housed on the second floor gallery of the Museum. One of these is called The Garden of Ideas comprising contemporary Art from Pakistan of six selected artists — a singular distinction awarded to Pakistan by the Museum Trust. The second is called In Search of the Artist, which tells the story of the artist-student relationships from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Before entering the Permanent and Temporary collections, the Aga Khan museum’s ‘free space’ allows visitors to browse through the atrium where the coffee shop is situated and from where hangs the impressive tapestry by the Lahore born, Pakistani artist, Aisha Khalid.  Titled, Your Way Begins on the Other Side, this tapestry is pierced in an intricate pattern with 1.2million pins and is more than six metres long with one side in burnished gold and red where the pins protrude to form a silky carpet look. The other side is delicately patterned on the style of a Persian carpet using cloth and pin heads to create outlines of animals and a garden. A truly compelling piece, no visitor to the museum can leave without marveling at its contemporary magnificence.

“The museum is an oasis for me in terms of space and structure. I was bowled over and want to keep going back. The exhibits, especially the manuscripts were mind blowing as were the Pakistani artists’ temporary exhibits which included Atif Khan’s stamp with flowers and ants, where he refers to the coexistence of good and bad. What a great initiative.”

– Sheeraz Wania,
Associate Professor of Media & Communications in Toronto and former Head of the department of Communication Design at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

Connection to Innovation – Technology bringing Artifacts to Life

Upon entrance, a video installation adorns the wall, telling a silent story of the creation of the pieces of art within. The multimedia makes different pieces come alive from a point of nothingness to their final look as if they were being created at that very moment. A compelling use of technology, the video animation sets the mood for the exhibition.

Another installation creatively maps the beginnings, the spread and the flourishing of Islamic rule across the world, giving a quick education to the uninitiated.

Connection to Impact

As Chairman of the Board of the Aga Khan Museum, His Highness is dedicated to promoting the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions of the Muslim Civilisations — a much needed but Herculean task in the current climate.

There is some change in perception that the museum is enabling, though. The National Post in Toronto — an extreme Right Wing publication — wrote in its review, “Syria. Egypt. Afghanistan. Pakistan. These place-names drip with blood in 2014, conjuring images of unrest, protest, bombings and civil war. The Aga Khan Museum offers a welcome antidote to these clichés through art that celebrates the rich cultural history of the Islamic world.”

Via DAWN | Aga Khan Museum: A glimpse of magnificence .


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Earlier and Related – Aga Khan Museum Inauguration – Media & Press Coverage

The Prime Minister’s Office | 24 SEVEN Exclusive: PM marks opening of Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Museum and Park

The Wall Street Journal | The Aga Khan’s New Islamic Treasure Trove

Forbes | A Museum Gifted By Aga Khan

The Washington Post | Pulitzer Prize-winning Art and Architecture Critic writes about Aga Khan Museum & Ismaili Centre in Toronto

The Globe & Mail | Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum, opening this week, is a world-class showcase for Islamic art

Newsweek | Aga Khan Museum: Enlightened Islam Fights Back Against Jihadist Brutality

Al Jazeera | Aga Khan Museum: Inside N America’s first Islamic art museum

Al Arabiya – العربية | Video: Aga Khan: Canada’s first Islamic Art Museum

Fast Company | Ainsley O’Connell: A Look Inside Fumihiko Maki’s Gorgeous New Museum For Islamic Art

The Guardian | Aga Khan Museum: North America finally gets a home for Islamic art


Continuous Coverage of all stories on Aga Khan Museum in Media & Press Coverage


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