Aga Khan Museum
Aga Khan Museum is a stunning Toronto museum dedicated to celebrating the Islamic Arts. Together with the Aga Khan Park and Ismaili Centre, this collective hub is dedicated to promoting understanding and trust between cultures through the use of art and education programs. The Aga Khan Museum complex offers one of the most culturally unique collections found anywhere in Canada.
Located at 77 Wynford Drive, just 15 minutes north of downtown Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum is easily accessible along the Don Valley Parkway by car. Paid parking is available on the premises. To get to the museum using public transportation, you need to take the metro and then transfer to a bus service.
For up-to-date information and exhibit details on the Aga Khan Museum, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
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More about Aga Khan Museum
Not only is the Aga Khan Museum the only museum dedicated to the Islamic arts in Canada, but it’s also the only such museum in all of North America. Opened in 2014, the Aga Khan Museum has already earned a reputation as one of the most significant cultural institutions in Toronto. The seven-hectare site features gallery space, gift shop, auditorium, restaurant and courtyard. The museum highlights the cultural achievements and creativity of Muslims over the course of 1,000 years spanning from China to Spain. The captivating exhibits and spectacular art will take you several hours to enjoy.
Though museums typically are the perfect place to visit during rainy or snowy days, the Aga Khan Museum is best appreciated on a sunny day. And that is because the building was designed to maximize natural light coming into the galleries, which paints an ever-changing canvas for displaying the works of art. The entire museum seems to come to life.
For families, the museum offers a free family exploration kit to help kids and adults learn about the works of art together. The grounds and exhibit space of the museum are fully accessible.
What is an Aga Khan? Actually, Aga Khan is a person. He is the Imam who leads those who follow the Ismaili branch of Shiite Islam. And a museum dedicated to Islamic art that also seeks to create an understanding of shared experiences between all cultures was a dream of the Aga Khan. In 2002, the current site was selected and the museum welcomed its first visitors in 2014.
The Aga Khan Museum can be appreciated in multiple ways — the art, the architecture, and the complex. Through the rich 1,000 years of art on display, the museum aims to help visitors better understand the people, religion, and philosophy of Islam. Featuring items from the private collection of the Aga Khan as well as from other private contributors, the art contained in the museum is breathtaking. Works of art range from painted manuscripts, ceramics, carpets, fountains, tile work, and metal work. The upstairs galleries house temporary and interactive exhibits.
The Aga Khan is much more than the collection of priceless art contained in its galleries. The building itself is a modern work of art that visitors can’t help but appreciate. The Pritzker Prize-winning design comes from Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. At first glance, the white granite exterior and interior of the museum feels ultra modern. But upon closer inspection, you start to see all the intricate details used in traditional Islamic architecture. Using natural light and air to accentuate the display space inside, the museum itself feels that it is always changing as the light moves throughout the day. Hexagons, a symbol for the heavens, are found throughout the building, but nowhere to better effect than a stunning spiral staircase leading to the museum’s auditorium. And at the heart of the museum is an open courtyard where visitors can sit and reflect in a tranquil setting.
For an artistic culinary experience, enjoy a savory meal at the Aga Khan’s restaurant, Diwan. The menu features a fresh take on traditional flavors and dishes found in Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian cuisine. And before leaving, stop by the Aga Khan Museum gift shop to pick up a souvenir or an Islamic-inspired work of art.
But the Aga Khan Museum is just one part of a larger complex. While in the area, enjoy the pleasant charms of the Aga Khan Park right next to the museum. Highlights of the garden include its five pools perfectly reflecting the superb architecture surrounding the garden and two km of walking trails through the sublimely designed architectural garden. On the other side of the Aga Khan Park is the Ismaili Centre. Designed by Indian architect Charles Correa, the centre promotes understanding between cultures and features space for educational and cultural programs as well as prayer space.
Combined, the Aga Khan Museum, Aga Khan Park and Ismaili Centre form an important cultural hub the celebrates diversity and recognizes the impact of Islam throughout the world.