Muslim cultures portrayed through art at Aga Khan Museum

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Staff Reporter

Kim Director & CEO of the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, came to Pakistan and along with visits to arts schools and galleries, gave a presentation on the Aga Khan Museum, at the Serena Hotel. It is the only Museum based on Muslim Civilisations in North America.
Mr. Boolani, CEO of Serena Hotels, under the banner of their Cultural Diplomacy Initiative,inaugurated the session with a heart-warming speech, stressing upon the rich cultural heritage that Pakistan has to offer to the world, and the importance of supporting art and artists in Pakistan who are the window to viewing what essentially makes Pakistanis who they are and where they come from.
Mr. Kim presented the true essence of Islam and its influence and change over so many years through his slides by telling us that, “Our education systems, do not encourage us to understand diversity. You look at popular media and there is very little understanding of different cultures.” When asked why Toronto, he explained that developed countries are the foci for donors and policymakers who can further align their funds and influence with the vision of the Museum which is connecting cultures. Furthermore, Canada is one of the most successfully diverse countries in the world with people belonging to a plethora of ethnicities and religions and access to a Museum of this sort would give them the opportunity to see the world with a different lens perhaps. He added, “80 percent of the visitors to the museum were non-Muslims who were keen to learn about Islamic art and culture.”
The Aga Khan Museum was inaugurated in 2014 and has been exhibiting work of a dual nature: both modern work by artists today, allowing the visitors to gain insight of the prevailing culture in many Muslim countries, and alongside this are displayed works through the history of Muslim civilizations which include artwork, metalwork, manuscripts, and scientific contraptions amongst many others. The permanent collection has been contributed by the Aga Khan family’s personal collection that had been collected arduously over many generations; putting them to the greater purpose that of disseminating awareness, education and fostering the spirit of inquisitiveness.
Prince Amyn Aga Khan at the opening of the Aga Khan Museum in 2014, said “The Museum will focus its attention not only on the acquisition, preservation and display of visual artistic creations, but also on a wide range of other cultural expressions, including poetry, philosophy and literature, music, architecture, science and social organisation.” The museum does just that, exploring how cultures connect through art with the floored-gallery; activities that visitors can participate in, lectures, along with adult workshops and courses; an auditorium for the performing arts where one can enjoy dance, music and other expressions of culture from across the globe.Through it all the Museum architecture and programme remains centred on Muslim civilizations. In keeping with Islamic artistic traditions, the atrium has traditional Arabic wooden screens known as mashrabiya, the patterns of which let a beautiful play on light to be observed.
The Aga Khan Museum is a wonderful step in promoting tolerance, peace and an insight into the Muslim world as it is today and to travel into history, to view what it was like once—a journey towards interconnectedness and harmony across cultures and religions.

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