Located within a 6.8 hectare park and sharing the site with Toronto’s Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum seeks to encourage intercultural dialogue and exchange, fostering knowledge and understanding of Islamic civilization through cultural programming and an extraordinary collection of Islamic arts and artifacts. The museum’s architecture is a reflection of this dialogue, a finely crafted contemporary interpretation of Islamic architecture and art within a Canadian context.
The museum’s diverse program - a mix of galleries, public spaces, a performance hall, and a restaurant - are arraigned around a central glazed courtyard, a Canadian adaptation of a common element in many Middle Eastern buildings. Etched into the courtyard’s glazing are Islamic mashrabiya patterns based on the patterned wooden screens used to regulate the sun in many Middle Eastern buildings. Light plays a central role in the design of the museum, animating and sculpting the building in a myriad of ways; casting patterns on the exterior granite walls, enhancing interior spaces, or illuminating the open-roof courtyard. A row of honeycomb-shaped apertures admit carefully modulated light into the upper galleries.
Along with the Ismaili Centre and surrounding landscape, the Aga Khan Museum is reflective of Ontario’s multicultural identity in a time where the world of Islam and the Western world need to work together much more effectively at building mutual understanding.