Tour the Collections


Tour the Collections

Date: Last updated on May 3, 2021

See captivating art and artifacts from the Aga Khan Museum — without having to leave home.


Check this space for pictures, videos, and other content highlighting pieces from our Museum Collection and temporary exhibitions.


The Public Curates: Dr. Nurjehan Akbarali on the Canon of Medicine


For family physician and Museum volunteer Dr. Nurjehan Akbarali, The Canon of Medicine (Qanun [Fi’l-Tibb] of Ibn Sina) is a touchstone that takes her back to her days as a medical student. The five-volume encyclopedia set the standard for Muslims and Europeans in the medical field for more than 500 years. As Dr. Akbarali notes in her video for the #MuseumWithoutWalls, the book's brilliant author, Ibn Sina, achieved significant advancements in his study of contagions and transmission, and laid the foundation for the quarantine measures that we are living through today.


Peer Perspective: Faridun Tests His Sons with Dr. Sheila Canby


In her latest Peer Perspective video for the #MuseumWithoutWalls​​, MET curator emerita Dr. Sheila Canby zooms in on intricate flourishes — some hyper-realistic, others fantastical — in an awe-inspiring manuscript painting from the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp. In the distinctive painting (accession number AKM903), the legendary King Faridun, disguised in the form of a dragon, confronts his three sons in a bid to discover each one's true character.


The Public Curates: My Favourite Object with Helen Platis


The first time veteran energy-sector leader Helen Platis visited the Aga Khan Museum, she was “taken with entire experience” — the architecture, the landscaping, and of course, the masterworks in the permanent Collection. But as she shares in her The Public Curates video for the #MuseumWithoutWalls​, it was one object in particular, a candlestick from 14th-century Syria or Egypt, that inspired a “personal memory” for Platis and revealed for her just how interconnected the world’s major traditions are with each other.



The Public Curates: My Favourite Object with Dr. Patricia Bentley


Our friend Dr. Patricia Bentley threads together a poetic reflection about her favourite object in the Museum’s Collection — an 800-year-old woven wonder from Iran or Central Asia. “A textile object like this takes me into deep time,” says Bentley, a writer, educator, and complex weaver, about the intricately detailed robe made from silk cloth and metal thread. Click the video to uncover more. 


The Public Curates: My Favourite Object with Jen Maus


From a distance, Toronto teacher Jen Maus’s favourite object in Museum’s Collection looks like a traditional Islamic garden carpet — but it isn’t a carpet at all. Look closer, she says, and you'll find a "highly conceptual artwork, full of beautiful contradictions and juxtapositions." Click the video below to hear Maus describe in her own words artist Aisha Khalid's Your Way Begins on the Other Side


The Public Curates: My Favourite Object with Niku Darafshi


Geology student Niku Darafshi’s favourite artifact in the Museum’s Collection reminds her of her grandparents in Iran and the close but still mysterious relationship artists have with the sights, sounds, and processes of the natural world.

Go here to learn more about Darafshi’s The Public Curates pick, a set of two painted tiles from 17th-century Iran.


The Public Curates: My Favourite Object with Shahzad Cokar


In this week’s edition of The Public Curates, our friend Shahzad Cokar reveals which intricately detailed object in the Museum's Collection transports him back — figuratively speaking, of course — to his parents’ home village in Pakistan. Click the video below to find out. 


Behind the Scenes: More than Turning a Page


Selecting which manuscript paintings to put on display takes more than just the turn of a page. With the Museum's Bita Pourvash and Alessandra Cirelli as your guides, find out the game-changing role of technology in helping the Aga Khan Museum's curators and Exhibitions personnel manage the objects in our Collection.


The Public Curates: My Favourite Object with Jane Liu


Both whimsical and awe-inspiring, the "Court of the Kayumars" folio from the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp is one of the best known and most beloved manuscript paintings in the Museum's Collection. In this video for the #MuseumWithoutWalls, longtime Museum Volunteer Jane Liu reflects on the beauty of the work's colourful clouds and mists and how they remind her of a motif in Chinese art.


The Public Curates: My Favourite Object with Lisa Schulte


Museum Educator Lisa Schulte reveals how an object — an engraved elephant tusk with a silver mount, to be precise — in the Museum’s Collection sparked her fascination with Islamic art. “It was a link between historical, cultural, artistic information that I was familiar… and this new wonderful world of this Islamic art and culture I was about to explore.”


The Public Curates: Bashir Lalani


The Public Curates series consists of short videos recorded by Museum visitors, patrons, and volunteers. The videos present their personal reflections on an object they have chosen from our Collection.


In the first instalment of the series, Bashir Lalani, a longtime Museum volunteer, shares his story about the journey that his family took to Canada and how this chestnut leaf with calligraphic composition from the collection of the Aga Khan Museum reminds him of that time.



Collections Conversations: From the Vaults with Curator Dr. Michael Chagnon and Collections Manager Karen Donaldson


How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected how we handle artifacts and plan new exhibitions? Step inside the Museum's vault with Curator Dr. Michael Chagnon and Collections Manager Karen Donaldson to learn about new measures we’ve adopted to keep our staff and visitors — and the art — safe.


Collections Conversations: Turning Off the Lights with Museum Registrar Megan White


Cut the lights! In a short video for the #MuseumWithoutWalls, Registrar Megan White reveals how our Exhibitions team protects objects in our Collection from light-related damage. Click the video below to go behind the scene.



Replay: Live virtual tour of Chrysalis with Curator Dr. Marika Sardar

A woman with short black hair with dyed-blond fringe, and wearing a metallic gold top, poses with her right hand on her hip and her left hand behind her head.

See stories of bravery and transformation brought to life on a virtual 3-D tour of the portrait series Chrysalis.


On Thursday, May 14, 2020, Curator Dr. Marika Sardar led #MuseumWithoutWalls visitors on a live video walk-through of the exhibition. Chrysalis, by Greek artist and photographer Olga Stefatou, introduces viewers to 11 women who fled their countries in search of a better life. Each woman's story is different, owing to the unique forces that caused her to uproot her life, flee to Greece, and eventually cross paths with Stefatou.


On the tour, Dr. Sardar shared stories of some of the courageous women who participated in Stefatou's project. She also spoke to what motivated her to want to bring Chrysalis to the Museum. 


Click the video below to watch a replay of the tour. 


Replay: Live virtual tour of Sanctuary with Curator Dr. Michael Chagnon


On Wednesday, May 6, 2020, Dr. Michael Chagnon led #MuseumWithoutWalls visitors on a live video tour of the Sanctuary exhibition. You can relive the experience by watching the video below. 

Originally organized by San Fransico's FOR-SITE Foundation, Sanctuary features 36 woven rugs designed by some of the world's most impactful contemporary artists. Each carpet is a distinctive meditation on the theme of sanctuary, a term that has taken on new meanings in an age of unprecedented displacement.


Sanctuary is presented with the support of Partners in Art, Mohammad and Najla Al Zaibak (Bay Tree Foundation), and the Global Patrons of the Aga Khan Museum. 


Sanctuary video walk-through: Universal Sanctuary


Universal Sanctuary, the final of three video walk-throughs of the Sanctuary exhibition, contemplates the ancient human drive to create spaces that encompass who we are and communicate our presence.

Sanctuary is supported by Mohammad and Najla Al Zaibak (Bay Tree Foundation), Partners in Art, and the Global Patrons of the Aga Khan Museum.


Sanctuary video walk-through: Sanctuary of the Mind


In the second of three video walks-throughs of the Sanctuary exhibition, woven rugs mark physical space for mental refuge — for contemplation, introspection, and interpretation — while also reflecting the artists’ individual histories in their designs.

Sanctuary is supported by Mohammad and Najla Al Zaibak (Bay Tree Foundation), Partners in Art, and the Global Patrons of the Aga Khan Museum.


Sanctuary video walk-through: Sanctuary in the Age of Displacement


What does “finding refuge” mean in an age of displacement?


Contributors to the Sanctuary exhibition tackled the question — each in their own distinctive way — using the unexpected medium of traditionally woven rugs. Ponder their answers, and form your own, on the first of three video walk-throughs of the exhibition.

Sanctuary is supported by Mohammad and Najla Al Zaibak (Bay Tree Foundation), Partners in Art, and the Global Patrons of the Aga Khan Museum.


Sanctuary Tour with Museum Curator Dr. Michael Chagnon


On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Museum Curator Dr. Michael Chagnon treated #MuseumWithoutWalls visitors to a behind-the-scenes peek at the upcoming exhibition Sanctuary.  


For the exhibition, 36 leading contemporary artists, including Mona Hatoum, Brendan Fernandes, and Ai Weiwei, each fashioned a design inspired by the theme of sanctuary. Then, artisans in Lahore, Pakistan, rendered the images into wool rugs using traditional weaving techniques.


During his real-time walk-through on Instagram Live, Chagnon delved into ideas expressed in the artists’ creations and how they relate to the world in which we live. He also delved into the hidden meanings behind the exhibition's innovative gallery design, developed in collaboration with MIT-based scholar, artist, and activist Dr. Azra Akšamija.


The exhibition is supported by Mohammad and Najla Al Zaibak (Bay Tree Foundation), Partners in Art and the Global Patrons of the Aga Khan Museum.


Go here to replay Aga Khan Museum Curator Dr. Michael Chagnon’s Instagram Live tour of Sanctuary.


Museum Collection Rotation: Blue


Explore the many shades of the colour blue and its journey across the map through paintings and objects on display in our Museum Collection. Blue signifies the cross-cultural exchange of the three main sources of blue used in Islamic Art — Lapis Lazuli, Cobalt, and Indigo. 


Go here to see highlights from our Blue rotation



#MuseumWithoutWalls Portal

Engage with the Ideas

Immerse Yourself

Play and Learn

Watch and Listen

Museum Favourites

Artisans' Exchange

REIMAGINE: Global Conversations

Curriculum Resources for Teachers and Parents


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