Millennia before smartphones captured history's significant moments, artists across cultures were depicting occasions in tapestries, paintings and sculpture. Today the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Ontario, whose mandate is connecting cultures through the arts, houses more than 1,000 years of artistic accomplishments in its permanent collection. Visitors explore painted manuscripts, metalwork as well as scientific instruments, which showcase the breadth of Muslim civilizations from the Iberian Peninsula to China.
Little wonder the Lonely Planet travel guide describes the Aga Khan Museum as the "No. 1 reason to visit Toronto now" and why the museum's CEO Henry Kim says, "We're a Museum like no other."
The museum opened in 2014 and was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. It centers around an open-air courtyard tiled with lapis and white granite. During summer months, visitors can relax in the Aga Khan Park, a landscaped site shared between the museum and the neighboring Ismaili Centre, Toronto.
Toronto's architectural gem is a stunning space for start-ups and businesses to book "grown-up field trips" in order to brainstorm. The location appeals to all ages. Armed with a free Family Exploration Kit from the tickets desk, parents and children launch their own exploration of the galleries. Sundays are Family Days and, from noon to 4 p.m., youngsters participate in art games, solve puzzles and more.
In partnership with institutions around the world, such as the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the museum annually presents several rotating and, frequently, immersive and interactive exhibitions on the second floor, which tell stories of intertwined communities and countries.
By car the museum is a short distance from downtown Toronto and the airport. It can be reached by public transit and has accessible parking.