Monocle Magazine | Faith Healer – Toronto’s newest cultural landmark: Aga Khan Museum

Visitors can see the Ismaili Centre’s Mecca-facing prayer hall – situated across the garden – in the windows above the Aga Khan Museum’s exit.

“It’s the only view of the outside world from within the building. We created this corridor directly across the garden to pay reverence to it.”

– Gary Kamemoto, Director, Maki and Associates.

The reference is subtle and non-obtrusive.

This is characteristic of how the organisation has chosen to engage non-believers: with gentleness, not coercion.

View of the Ismaili Centre from Aga Khan Museum's Patron Lounge. (Photo via Monocle)
View of the Ismaili Centre from Aga Khan Museum Patron’s Lounge. (Photo via Monocle)

Preface: Toronto’s newest cultural landmark is the Aga Khan Museum, dedicated to collecting art and artefacts from throughout the Islamic world. A serene and inclusive site, it aims to educate and unite visitors of all faiths.

November 2014 Issue 78, volume 8 p.181-184 – Writer: Jason Li – Photographer: Alexi Hobbs

The Aga Khan Museum is glistening confidently, almost defiantly, beneath overcast skies when monocle visits. Opened in September on the outskirts of Toronto, it is North America’s first repository of artworks and artefacts from the Muslim world. The Aga Khan, the France-based spiritual leader of an estimated 15 million Ismaili Muslims, conceived the project 20 years ago.

“The objective is to educate the world not through the formal language of textbooks but through the language of objects, which have emotional impact on both young and old.”

– Luis Monreal, General Manager, Aga Khan Trust for Culture

The solution has been modelled after the Shah Mosque and its adjacent grounds in Isfahan, Iran. The ca$300m (€212m) Toronto interpretation is a 100-metre-wide char-bagh (a formal four-part garden) flanked on one side by the Ismaili Centre of Toronto and the Aga Khan Museum on the other. “The buildings are subordinate to the formal garden that embodies the identity of the place,” says Kamemoto. On entering the tranquil compound visitors leave behind the rumbling traffic of the nearby Don Valley parkway and step into an environment calibrated to relax the spirit.

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Earlier and Related – Aga Khan Museum Inauguration – Selected 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

Earlier and Related: Recent Media & Press Coverage on Aga Khan Museum

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