The Faaiza Lalji and Ameel Somani Aga Khan Museum International Research Grant

The Faaiza Lalji and Ameel Somani Aga Khan Museum International Research Grant

Date: This program is currently on hold due to travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Thanks to the generous support of Faaiza Lalji and Ameel Somani through the Aga Khan Museum Gift Fund, we are pleased to offer travel grants for graduate students planning to conduct research related to the Museum’s work.


The Faaiza Lalji and Ameel Somani Aga Khan Museum International Research Grant is open to PhD candidates wanting to travel to the Museum to conduct research for their doctoral dissertation. One applicant will be selected annually. Grants of a maximum of CAD $5,000.00 are awarded to support researchers with their travel and accommodation.  Awardees are expected to spend the majority of their research time on the trip at the Aga Khan Museum and to provide a short presentation of their research to an internal forum of museum scientific staff prior to their departure.


This grant provides successful applicants with:

  • Funding to help cover the cost of travelling to and securing accommodation in Toronto
  • Access to the Museum’s Collection and experts in the students’ fields of study

To be eligible for the grant, applicants are required to have their project or research program pre-approved by the Museum. Applications will be reviewed once a year and must be received by March 31 to be entered into consideration for the upcoming admissions cycle. Students must be legally eligible to travel to Canada and will be responsible for the same. Therefore, applicants are strongly advised to familiarize themselves with the travel visa requirements before submitting their applications.


Here is an at-a-glance look at the grant’s first recipient’s experience:


Name: Jake Benson

Year: 2019

AKM Exhibitions Visited: Temporary exhibitions Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa, Ekow Nimako’s Building Black: Civilizations, and Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, as well as the Aga Khan Museum’s permanent Collection


Focus of Research: The focus of Jake’s research was those items in the Museum’s Collection that featured marbled paper which was traditionally made with floating colours and was historically practised in the Islamic world. Jake was fascinated by the range of items held in the Museum’s Collection that featured marbled or decorated papers. He spent much of his time in the galleries examining various pieces of art that were of interest to him. In addition, he deepened his knowledge by learning from the curators and Collection experts, which furthered his understanding of the items in his area of research.


“The absolute highlight of my time at the Museum was necessarily examining so many pieces in person, including under a microscope. I am eternally grateful to have been given access to your facilities and to have worked with your staff to both closely inspect and learn more about the provenance, material composition, and physical construction of the objects in your Collection, observing many features that are not easily seen by the naked eye.”

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