PM Harper of Canada and HH the Aga Khan waving to crowds outside the Ismaili Centre, Toronto - AKDN / Zahur Ramji).
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, and His Highness the Aga Khan formally opened the Ismaili Centre Toronto and Aga Khan Museum today.
These projects, which are initiatives of the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, are intended to foster knowledge and understanding both within Muslim societies and between these societies and other cultures.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, His Highness the Aga Khan saluted the many leaders, volunteers and staff who have made possible the completion of these new institutions, including the Prime Minister, and many members of government at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. These spaces “will be filled with sounds of enrichment, dialogue and warm human rapport, as Ismailis and non-Ismailis share their lives in a healthy gregarious spirit," he remarked.
Prime Minister Harper commented that the site will be “a source of inspiration, spiritual renewal and cultural awareness,” not only for Torontonians, but for all visitors. The Prime Minister paid a special tribute to the Aga Khan’s vision of Islam, which “stresses its social traditions of peace, tolerance and pluralism." “The decision to establish this significant initiative in Canada reflects the deep and longstanding partnership between the Imamat and Canada,” said the Prime Minister.
PM Harper of Canada and HH the Aga Khan at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto - photo:AKDN/Zahur Ramji).
Following the ceremony, Prime Minister Harper and His Highness the Aga Khan, as well as Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Vice-Chair of the Museum’s Board of Directors, and the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, officiated over the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Museum.
“I believe strongly that art and culture can have a profound impact in healing misunderstanding and in fostering trust even across great divides," said Prince Amyn. “This is the extraordinary purpose, the special mandate, to which this Museum is dedicated. In its role to reveal and to stimulate dialogue between different cultures, the Aga Khan Museum will continue a long history of cultural sharing between Islam and the West.”
The Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum are situated within the 6.8-hectare landscaped park designed by Vladimir Djurovic of Lebanon. This beautiful new green space for the public, which will be known as the Aga Khan Park, is expected to open next year. Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki designed the Aga Khan Museum, while Indian architect Charles Correa designed the Ismaili Centre. The Canadian firm Moriyama & Teshima are the architects of record and are responsible for integrating all aspects of the project.
HH the Aga Khan and PM Harper unveil a plaque at the opening of the Aga Khan Museum as Prince Amyn Aga Khan and Minister Glover look on - AKDN / Gary Otte).
The Aga Khan Museum is the first museum in North America dedicated to the arts of Muslim civilisations. Through its Permanent Collection, performing arts and educational programmes and roster of temporary exhibitions, it will welcome the full spectrum of public engagement and serve as a vibrant educational institution.
The Ismaili Centre incorporates spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement, and spiritual reflection. Together, these global institutions will contribute to a better understanding among different communities and cultures. The establishment of these institutions in Toronto reflects the Aga Khan’s longstanding relationship with Canada and his appreciation for the country’s commitment to pluralism and cultural diversity.
The Aga Khan Museum will be opened to the public on 18 September 2014. It is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions that Muslim civilisations have made to world heritage. Housed in a unique building designed by Pritzker Laureate Fumihiko Maki, the Museum's Permanent Collection of over 1,000 objects includes masterpieces that reflect a broad range of artistic styles and materials. These portraits, textiles, manuscripts, manuscript paintings, ceramics, tiles, medical texts, books and musical instruments represent more than ten centuries of human history and a geographic area stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to China.
For more information, please visit www.agakhanmuseum.org
The Ismaili Centre Toronto, designed by renowned Indian architect Charles Correa, is part of a network of Centres – located in Vancouver, London, Lisbon, Dubai and Dushanbe – which host programmes that stimulate the intellect, encourage dialogue and celebrate cultural diversity. For more information, please visit www.theismaili.org/ismailicentres
HH the Aga Khan shows artefacts at the Aga Khan Museum to Minister Shelly Glover - AKDN Zahur Ramji).
His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper on the terrace of the Ismaili Centre with the new Aga Khan Museum in the background - AKDN Gary Otte.