Masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum collection were exhibited in Europe and Southeast Asia

Manuscripts and works of art from the Aga Khan Museum collection, which contains over one thousand items spanning over a millennium of history, were exhibited in various museums in Europe and Southeast Asia. Comprising works of art on paper and parchment, in stone, wood, ivory and glass, metalwork, and ceramics, the items provided an overview of the artistic accomplishments of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China, from the 8th to the 18th centuries. The works of art also emphasised the high level of culture of the Islamic courts that were responsible for spreading knowledge of ancient Greece to the west through translations in Arabic.
AKDN Press Release

Parma, Italy
at the Palazzo della Pilotta from
 March 31 to April 1, 2007

The exhibition was titled “Splendori a Corte.” In addition to the exhibition, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in collaboration with the Teatro Regio di Parma and Parma Capitale della Musica, presented a programme of sacred music from Central Asia. AKDN Press Release
Splendori a Corte Catalogue

“The need for better understanding across cultures has never been greater – nor more pressing. We must do our utmost to value and protect what is greatest in our common heritage. It is important that the diversity of cultures, the pluralism that characterises many societies today, is recognised as a vital asset and prerequisite for progress and development.…I hope that this exhibition will hold a special significance at a time which calls for enlightened encounters amongst faiths and cultures.”
His Highness the Aga Khan
Parma, Italy, March 30, 2007
Speech at 

Fatimid jar
Fatimid jar from the 10th or 11th century exhibited at Parma. Aga Khan Museum

London, UK
at the Ismaili Centre from July 12 to August 31, 2007

The exhibition, titled “Spirit & Life” representing din and duniya, the spiritual and secular lives of Muslims, displayed 160 masterpieces of Islamic art.
Spirit & Life Catalogue

If I could express one hope for all of you, as you leave this place today, it is that you will appreciate even more deeply how much culture matters in Muslim societies, and how deeply culture is entwined for Muslims with matters of faith. This is why we call this exhibition: ‘Spirit and Life’. At a time when the forces of exclusion, alienation, and separation can often seem so threatening in our world, I am convinced that our ability to honour authentic symbols of pride and identity – and to share their beauty and their power with one another – can be a tremendous force for good.”
His Highness the Aga Khan 
Spirit & Life Exhibition, London, UK, July 12, 2007
Speech at AKDN

“I understand that this is the first time these masterpieces of Islamic art have been seen in London. They are of quite exceptional historical importance and beauty. But, perhaps still more importantly, they also convey the clearest possible message about the close ties between the Abrahamic Faiths….But I have no doubt that the existence of shared values is a key defining factor. These values celebrate humility, greatness of soul, honour, magnanimity and, indeed, hospitality…These shared values are perhaps, the greatest of the treasures displayed here today.” His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales 
Spirit & Life Exhibition, London, UK, July 12, 2007
Speech at AKDN

Spirit & Life Exhibition
His Highness the Aga Khan and Their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales view a painting of 18th century Iran at the opening of the Spirt & Life Exhibition.
AKDN/Arnhel de Serra

Paris, France

1) at Musée du Louvre in Paris from October 5, 2007 to January 7, 2008
The exhibition was titled “The Song of the World – Iranian Safavid Art, 1501-1736” (“Le chant du monde – L’art de l’Iran safavide, 1501-1736”).
2) at Museum of Decorative Arts from October 11, 2007 to January 13, 2008
The exhibition was titled “Purs décors? Chefs d’oeuvre de l’Islam aux Arts Décoratifs” (“Pure decoration? Islamic masterpieces at the Decorative Arts Museum”).

“… the 1,428 years of the Ummah embrace many civilisations and are, therefore, characterised by an astonishing pluralism… the Muslim world has always been wide open to every aspect of human existence. The sciences, society, art, the oceans, the environment and the cosmos have all contributed to the great moments in the history of Muslim civilisations. The Qur’an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God’s creation. Our collection seeks to demonstrate the openness of Muslim civilisations to every aspect of human life…
His Highness the Aga Khan
Closing Address, The ‘Musée-Musées’ Round Table Louvre Museum
Paris, France, October 17, 2007
Speech at AKDN

Lisbon, Portugal
at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum from
 March 14 to July 6, 2008

The exhibition was titled “The Path of Princes: Masterpieces of the Aga Khan Museum Collection.”
The Path of Princes Catalogue

Exhibitions such as this one play an important role in promoting understanding, respect and appreciation for different cultures and traditions.”
Prince Amyn Aga Khan
Lisbon, Portugal, March 13, 2008
AKDN Press Release

“Beyond the intrinsic value of this encounter between two significant art collections, the exhibition’s symbolic value is of added importance at the present time for the role that institutions like the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture may take in furthering the understanding of diversity, a condition conducive to the opening of dialogue between peoples and cultures”…
Emílio Rui Vilar, President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Lisbon, Portugal, March 13, 2008
AKDN Press Release


1) in Madrid at CaixaForum Madrid from June 4 to September 6, 2009
The exhibition was titled “The Islamic Worlds in the Aga Khan Museum Collection.”
2) in Barcelona from October 2009 to January 2010
The Worlds of Islam Catalogue

Aga Khan Museum
Manuscript of a Mauritanian Qur’an
Northwest Africa, Mauritania, 18th century. Aga Khan Museum

Berlin, Germany
at the Martin-Gropius-Bau from March 17 to June 6, 2010

The exhibition, titled “Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum,” displayed some 200 masterpieces representing more than a thousand years of Islamic cultural history. AKDN
Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum Catalogue

Societies where Islamic influence predominated were multi-ethnic and multi-faith… Geographically, the Islamic world stretched from Spain to South East Asia. Chronologically, it extended from Late Antiquity to the modern age. Museums of Islamic art are the custodians of this diversity. The many thousands of objects held in museums are testimony to the cultural achievements of Muslim-dominated countries… When properly set in context, objects can build bridges to those other times and realities…”
Stefan Weber, Director, Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum

Istanbul, Turkey
at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum from November 5, 2010 to February 27, 2011

The exhibition, titled “Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Arts of the Book and Calligraphy,” was the first created to centre on calligraphy and the arts related to the book. AKDN
Arts of the Book & Calligraphy Catalogue

“Whether it occurs along the great trade routes, over land or over sea, or whether it occurs for reasons essentially geographic, this dialogue of cultures has nearly always resulted in an upsurge of creativity, in a continuing cultural renewal. In my view, this dialogue is more essential today than ever.”
Prince Amyn Aga Khan
Istanbul, Turkey, November 5, 2010
Speech at AKDN

Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Prince Amyn Aga Khan viewing the ‘Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Arts of the Book and Calligraphy’ exhibition at the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul on November 4, 2010. Image: AKTC

St. Petersburg, Russia
at the Hermitage
from December 9, 2011 to February 26, 2012

The exhibition, titled “Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Architecture in Islamic Arts,” was the first created from the Museum’s collections to centre on architecture in the Islamic world. The exhibition was divided into six sections:

  • Sacred Typographies – explored the sites and monuments of Islamic pilgrimage through paintings and drawings
  • Religious and Funerary Architecture – examined mosques and commemorative shrines
  • The Fortress and the City – encompassed forts and fortified towns
  • The Palace – focused on the residences of royal families
  • Gardens, Pavilions, and Tents – discussed the arts of shelter
  • Architecture and the Written Word – examined architectural spaces contained in miniature painting

AKDN Press Release

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia from March 31 to June 29, 2012

The exhibition titled “Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Architecture in Islamic Arts,” marked the first time the collection was shown in South East Asia. It featured 100 masterpieces. AKDN

“….this is how architecture was perceived 600 years ago, and this is how we perceive architecture today. How can we connect them?”
Dr. Heba Nayel Barakat
Head of Curatorial Affairs, Islamic Arts Museum, Malaysia

“It is our responsibility … to think and correct the messages which are being sent around the world about our history and about our culture”
His Highness the Aga Khan
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 31, 2012
AKDN Press Release

at the Asian Civilisations Museum from July 19 to October 28, 2012

The exhibition was titled “Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Architecture in the Islamic World.”
Architecture in Islamic Arts Catalogue

“Islamic Architecture is one of the most visible aspects of Islamic culture”
Dr. Alan Chong, Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum
Singapore, July 18, 2012
AKDN Press Release

Aga Khan Museum
Tile, Iran, possibly Kashan; late 13th or early 14th century. Possibly part of a wall. Aga Khan Museum

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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