Prince Amyn’s hope for the Aga Khan Museum: “enlightenment”

AKM opening“I believe strongly that art and culture can have a profound impact in healing misunderstanding and in fostering trust even across great divides. This is the extraordinary purpose, the special mandate, to which this Museum is dedicated….. I think it is accurate to say that in Muslim societies the pursuit of artistic and cultural excellence has for many centuries been a hallmark of the life in those societies, just as for them the aesthetic experience has always been seen as part of the learning process…..

Here in Toronto, visitors from all over the world will be uniquely able to experience and appreciate the intellectual, cultural and artistic heritage of Muslim civilisations in all of its rich diversity. Simply by emphasising that diversity, the Museum will make an important point that is so often now misunderstood by both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

We are what we come from, and to think we come from nowhere is both an intellectual and a natural fallacy.

Let me conclude by saying that if I were looking for a single word to sum up my intention and hope for the Aga Khan Museum, it would be the word “enlightenment.”  It is a word which has both cultural and spiritual significance. The history of the thought and the creations of man can perhaps be said to be a long path from one period of enlightenment to another.

I would hope that this Museum will contribute to a new period of enlightenment, helping visitors from around the world to rediscover the common symbols that unite us all across the globe, across all civilisations, across time.”

Extracts from Prince Amyn’s speech at the opening of the Aga Khan Museum
September 12, 2014
Read complete speech at The Ismaili

“The mission of the Museum will be to make the art of Islam in all its diversity better known. It will show the multiplicity of voices with which Islam has spoken. I hope, too, that it will show something of the dialogue that has existed between the arts and the aesthetics of the non-Muslim world and the Muslim world.”

Prince Amyn Aga Khan, as quoted in Jodidio, Aga Khan Museum

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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