In support of International Museum Day, a profile of four museums by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

As the worldwide community of museums celebrates International Museum Day today, May 18, 2015, the Ismailimail team is proud to present a portfolio of museum projects undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).

“Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples”.

Professor Dr. Hans-Martin Hinz, International Council of Museums (ICOM) President

Aga Khan Museum, Toronto Ontario Canada – inaugurated September 2014

The Aga Khan Museum, is dedicated to the acquisition, preservation and display of artefacts – from various periods and geographies – relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of Islamic communities. Surrounded by a large landscaped park, the Museum will provide a forum for permanent exchanges between the Islamic and Western worlds. It will also be a major centre for education and research and for the discovery of the musical heritage of the Islamic world.
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, will house more than 1,000 items. Gary Otte / Aga Khan Museum
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada, will house more than 1,000 items. Gary Otte / Aga Khan Museum

The Museum’s collection contains some of the world’s most important masterpieces of Islamic art, including the famous collection of miniatures and manuscripts created by the late Prince Sadruddin and his wife Princess Catherine, and objects in stone, wood, ivory and glass, metalwork, ceramics, rare works on paper and parchment. Covering over one thousand years of history, they create an overview of the artistic accomplishments of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China. His Highness the Aga Khan’s personal commitment to the objectives of the Museum will keep the collection growing in size and importance.

Upcoming AKTC Museum Projects

Humayun’s Tomb Site Museum, Delhi, India

Following a decade-long revitalisation effort undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which included the conversation of monuments, restoration of parks and gardens and related socio-economic projects in neighbouring districts, the Humayun’s Tomb Complex now receives almost two million visitors annually. Over 500,000 of them are school children. A great number of pilgrims – from across the world and of many faiths – visit the adjoining Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, the 14th century Sufi saint who continues to be revered seven centuries after his death.

Humayun Tomb Site Mueseum

A state-of-the-art site museum is to be built at the entrance of the World Heritage Site to:

  • enhance visitor experience
  • allow a better understanding of Mughal architecture and building craft traditions
  • shed light on the development of the Nizamuddin area over a millennium, and
  • most significantly, explain the pluralistic Sufi cultural traditions that defined Hindustani culture for at least five centuries.

This will be the first of the Site Museums planned for the 25 Adarsh or “model” monuments recently designated by the Government of India’s Ministry of Culture.

Museum of Historic Cairo, Egypt

At the north end of Al-Azhar Park – which AKTC spent three decades building on a 30-hectare (74-acre) site – AKTC is now building a Museum of Historic Cairo, in cooperation with the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. The Park site, bordered by 1.5 km of the old city’s Ayyubid wall on one side, and the Mamluk “City of the Dead” on the other, was a rubble dump for 500 years. Inaugurated in 2004, Al-Azhar Park is today a major attraction for tourists and Egyptians alike.

Plan for the Museum of Historic Cairo, to be built on one corner of Azhar Park, will provide a gateway to the rich Muslim heritage of the city.
Plan for the Museum of Historic Cairo, to be built on one corner of Azhar Park, will provide a gateway to the rich Muslim heritage of the city.

Art and architectural elements from Heliopolis, the early settlements of Cairo and the City’s major historical periods will be on show, including the Fatimid Golden Age, the periods of the Ayyubids and Mamluks, and the era of Ottoman rule. Special rooms will recreate the atmosphere of nineteenth century Cairo. The Museum will house some of the great wealth of art and artefacts of Cairo’s mediaeval heritage that are not currently on display to the public.

The Indian Ocean Maritime Museum, Zanzibar

As part of long-standing revitalisation work in Zanzibar’s Stone Town, AKTC has restored several landmark buildings, one of which – the Old Dispensary – will house a museum dedicated to the Indian Ocean as a maritime space in which, since prehistory, the exchange of goods, ideas and myths took place between its diverse coastal civilisations.

The Indian Ocean Maritime Museum in Zanzibar will showcase the commercial and cultural contacts that occurred between Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.
The Indian Ocean Maritime Museum in Zanzibar will showcase the commercial and cultural contacts that occurred between Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.

The museum space will cover two floors of the building and include sections on various aspects of Indian Ocean geography, trade and culture, including the role of monsoons and ocean currents, the evolution of Arab navigation, and the travels of Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Ibn Majid, Zheng He, and others, from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and beyond. Other sections will recount the incursions and eventual domination of the ocean by European powers, the exploits of pirates and privateers and the importance of the great trade companies.

Via AKDN | AKTC


About the International Museum Day

Museums for a sustainable society

Every year since 1977, ICOM has organised International Museum Day (IMD), which represents a unique moment for the international museum community. On this day, participating museums plan creative events and activities related to the International Museum Day theme, engage with their public and highlight the importance of the role of museums as institutions that serve society and its development.

The objective of International Museum Day is to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Organised on and around 18 May each year, the events and activities planned to celebrate IMD can last a day, a weekend or a whole week.

Participation in International Museum Day is growing among museums all over the world. In 2014, more than 35,000 museums participated in the event in over 140 countries from all continents.

International Museum Day - map

Via ICOM | IMD

One thought

  1. I’m unclear of the status of the Indian Ocean Maritime Museum – it has gone off radar since soon after 2008. Hopefully it will once again come on-radar – depending on the local political will and climate.

    One of the Aga Khan buildings slated for King’s Cross includes cultural space for concerts and exhibitions, though it is unclear if that would count as a stand alone museum – likely not.

    Like

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