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'Panoply' of Islamic art opens in Toronto

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'Panoply' of Islamic art opens in Toronto

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Canada's new hub for Islamic art has officially opened in Toronto.

The Aga Khan Museum was bankrolled by Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims.

The building, designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, features more than 1,000 artifacts – including rare scriptures of the Koran.

The Aga Khan Museum is being touted as the only institution in North America solely dedicated to the panoply of Islamic art.

For the opening, a temporary exhibition called ‘The Garden of Ideas’ features work from six contemporary Pakistani artists.

The most well known of them, Imran Qureshi, was commissioned to create a painting on the museum grounds, titled 'The Garden Within'.

Qureshi said: “ When I came to Toronto last April to visit the site, they showed me all the spaces in the museum and told me ‘You can do it where ever you want’. So when I saw the garden, and it was inspired by the Persian garden, this was so much like the miniature paintings for me and since I was trained as a miniature painter, I immediately related myself to this space. It looks very much inspired by the Persian garden but at the same time it’s not – it’s very modern it’s very contemporary and this is what my art practice is all about.”

The multi-million Aga Khan Museum and adjacent Ismaili Center, designed by architect Charles Correa, sprawls over 6.8 hectares.

Most of the artifacts come from the Aga Khan family’s collection, showcasing the achievements of Muslim civilizations from Spain to China.

The museum is part of the Aga Khan Development Network, which has agencies around the world.

The hope is that it will attract up to 250,000 visitors annually.

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