Building bridges: Aga Khan to Initiate New Canadian Museum

TORONTO – Canadian tolerance and pluralism will take another leap forward on Friday when the Aga Khan opens two key institutions and a park in Toronto.

The Aga Khan will participate in the foundation ceremony of the first ever Aga Khan Museum for Islamic Art and Culture as well as an Ismaili centre – which is part of a chain of such centres across the world – similar to the one built in Burnaby which opened in 1985.

The Aga Khan believes there has been a clash of ignorance between cultures and faiths following the tragic Sept. 11 attacks on New York.

It is hoped the museum – which will highlight Islam’s contribution to global civilization – will help dispel the distrust and build confidence between cultures and faiths.

One of the manuscripts expected to be housed at the museum is a portion of the 14-volume Canon of Medicine – authored by the man regarded as the father of modern medicine – Ibn Sina – Avicenna.

“The development of these projects, an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims and Founder and Chairman of the AgaKhan Development Network, seeks to foster knowledge and understanding both within Muslim societies and between these societies and other cultures,” said a statement issued by the Aga Khan Council for Canada.

“The Aga Khan Museum and its collection reflect the plurality of the Muslim world, while the adjacent Ismaili Centre will create spaces for interaction and dialogue. Together, they will offer platforms for the search for mutual understanding among all communities and cultures,” the council said.

“Situated on a 6.8 hectare site along a major artery of Toronto, the Don Valley Parkway, the buildings and park represent the Aga Khan’s commitment to Canada and appreciation for the country’s adherence to pluralism and cultural diversity,” it said.

The Aga Khan has applauded Canada and Canadians for being the most tolerant, pluralistic societies in the world. This faith in the Canadian ideal, has prompted the Aga Khan to make the country a centre-stage for several key institutions of his community.

The Ismaili Centre will be a place for prayer and cultural activity for the community. It is designed by renowned architect Charles Correa.

“The Centre will host an active series of programming to engage a variety of stakeholders in dialogue, learning, and bridge-building. This is Correa’s first commission in Canada,” said the Aga Khan council.

“The Aga Khan Museum, devoted to Islamic art, is an educational institution showcasing the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of Muslim civilizations with their historic, cultural and geographic diversity,” it said.

“The Aga Khan Museum has been designed by the award-winning Japanese architect, Fumihiko Maki, who also designed the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa.”

“The two projects will be united by a new landscaped park, designed by Lebanese landscape architect, Vladimir Djurovic. The park will incorporate the Islamic “chaar bhag” or formal garden, and will include reflecting pools, walkways, and four-season components suited to the climate of Toronto.

“The Park will be open to the public and is intended to be a place of tranquility and contemplation,” the council said.

Source: Vancouverite

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