Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Aga Khan

The Aga Khan Museum & Park
Continuing through the “111 Places in Toronto that you Must Not Miss”, we decided to head out to visit the Aga Khan Museum located in Don Mills, a Toronto suburb. It involved a subway ride of 7 stops and then a 20 stop bus ride for almost and hour, but sounded like an interesting place. The book actually suggested a visit to the park surrounding the museum, but we figured we might as well make it a day and visit the museum as well which also featured an excellent restaurant for lunch. 

I really did not know what to expect from the Museum; I had heard of Aga Khan,

Eager Visitors

but did not know much about him. After visiting the museum, I came home and did some research to find out more. The Aga Khan is the traditional head of the Ismaili islamic religious people. The Ismaili are an esoteric non-conformist branch of islam that is actually more like Hinduism. Although the Aga Khan was born in Switzerland and actually lives and works from Portugal, his followers are located in countries all over the world. He is one of the richest “Royals” in the world, with his wealth coming from donations from his 15 million followers worldwide. Although he does enjoy the life of a wealthy aristocrat, he is well known for using his wealth for many worthwhile projects around the world. The Aga Khan Museum is one of his projects.

Entry to the 'Night in the Garden of Love"

The museum itself is amazing. It is situated in a large park and the building is modern, beautiful and an example of a “Money is no object” building project. As you walk in you are presented with a wide open spectacular structure. It contains the actual museum, an auditorium, a teaching area, a gift shop wth gifts I could never afford, a restaurant and various areas for temporary exhibitions. The museum itself is actually a small part of the complex. Nothing is crowded here; there are open spaces everywhere, including a huge open courtyard in the middle open to the sky. 

The Actual museum contains artifacts collected from around the world about the Ismaili religion and culture, and wandering through, I really did feel I was getting a better understanding of their history and culture. The collection contains many beautiful, intricate wood, ceramics and metal pieces from all over the globe as well as various ornate copies of the Qur’an and other Ismaili literature. Another room contained a beautiful collection of ceramics, and the Temporary exhibition featured a multi-sensory presentation by two artists entitled “A night in the Garden of Love”

We spent most of the day exploring the museum, with a break for lunch in the restaurant which is decorated with 200 year old panels donated from an Islamic mansion. I left feeling I knew a lot more about the Ismaili religion and culture; Regis felt the same, but she was also a bit dizzy from the virtual reality part of the “Night in the garden of Love”.

Below are some photos from the museum. 

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