Deadly Struggle & Peace, New York Times on Aga Khan Museum’s acclaimed exhibition Syria: A Living History


Syria’s Murderous Struggle, and Multicultural Peace

By HOLLAND COTTER      DEC. 7, 2016

After years of civil war, and with one of its most venerable cities, Aleppo, under threat of obliteration, Syria is for many little more than a 21st-century nightmare, its glorious past lost and forgotten.

The exhibition “Syria: A Living History,” at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, is here to remind us of that past.

The show features just 48 objects, but it encompasses centuries, and much of the work is choice. The earliest piece, a stone sculpture that looks abstract except for two pairs of staring eyes, dates from around 3200 B.C. An exquisitely carved ivory lion’s head from the eighth or ninth century B.C. has roots in Near Eastern visual traditions shared with Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Christian, Jewish and Islamic influences also came into play and mingled.

Throughout all of this, there were periods of murderous struggle. More remarkable, there were even longer stretches of multicultural peace.

By closing with contemporary Syrian works, the show suggests that, against all present evidence, there could be peace again. (Through Feb. 26.)

SOURCE: New York Times | ART & DESIGN | Syria’s Murderous Struggle, and Multicultural Peace

A version of this article appears in print on December 11, 2016, on page AR6 of the New York edition with the headline: Deadly Struggle, But Peace, Too.


Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali

About Aga Khan Museum’s acclaimed exhibition Syria: A Living History

Exhibition Duration: Oct 15 2016 to Feb 26 2017

Few countries have captured the world’s attention like Syria has today.

Stories of conflict and displacement dominate the media and define people’s awareness of the place. Syria: A Living History brings together artifacts and artworks that tell a different story — one of cultural diversity, historical continuity, resourcefulness, and resilience.

For over five millennia, this region perched on the eastern Mediterranean has witnessed great world civilizations coming on its soil and producing art, literature, and culture that constitute the country’s rich legacy.

Strongly informed by a distinctive landscape and history, artists of Syria throughout the ages have made priceless contributions to world heritage.

Syria: A Living History inspires new understanding of Syria’s past and present, and invites new ways of thinking about its future.

Dr. Filiz Çakır Phillip, Aga Khan Museum
Professor Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, MIT

Dr. Ross Burns, Sydney, Australia

SOURCE: Aga Khan Museum | Syria: A Living History

Download the Exhibition Companion Book



Related Programming

Heritage and Conflict: Syria’s Battle to Save Its Past

Sunday, October 16, 2 pm

Syria: A Living History

Tuesday, October 18, 6:30–7:30 pm

Writing at the Aga Khan Museum

Sunday, October 23, 11am–4 pm

Syria’s Art and Architecture: A Multicultural History

Saturday, October 29, 9:30 am–4 pm and Sunday, October 30, 10 am–12 pm
Co-organized with Professor Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, MIT

Showcase Performance
CLASSICAL MUSIC SERIES Arias and Maqams with Lubana Al Quntar

Saturday, October 29, 8 pm

50 Feet from Syria

Sunday, November 6, 2 pm

Modern History: Syria

Thursday, November 10, 1–2 pm

Aleppo: A City and Its Architecture

Sunday, November 13, 2–4 pm

Oh My Sweet Land by Amir Nizar Zuabi

Friday, November 18–Sunday, November 20, 6 pm

Home Within with Kinan Azmeh and Kevork Mourad

Saturday, November 26, 8 pm and Sunday, November 27, 2 pm

Return to Homs

Sunday, December 4, 2 pm

Arabica Coffee House Concert with the Al Qahwa Ensemble

Sunday, December 11, 6 pm

A Syrian Love Story

Sunday, January 15, 2pm

A Pearl in the Desert: Palmyra’s Multicultural Society

Saturday, January 26, 1 pm

Mwashahat and Qudood by The Canadian Arabic Orchestra and The Canadian Arabic Choir

Saturday, January 28, 7:30 pm

On the Bride’s Side

Sunday, January 29, 2 pm

Damascus Remembered: Walking the City in Time

Thursday, February 9, 1 pm

Curator’s Tour
Syria: A Living History

Thursday, February 16, 6:30 pm

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