Word and Image in Islamic Art

Online Course

Word and Image in Islamic Art

Date: Self-paced online course now available.
Price: $50; $45 (Friends Pricing)
Click here to register for Word and Image in Islamic Art

The Museum's popular Word and Image in Islamic Art course that sold out in 2021 returns in a new and exciting format! Available as self-paced units and presented by Museum Curator Dr. Michael Chagnon, this interactive course immerses students in spellbinding works of art from the Aga Khan Museum and peer institutions. Explore the ways in which artists from the inception of Islam in the 7th century to the present day navigated the realms of the visual and the verbal.


Combining storytelling with deep dives into exquisite examples of calligraphy, painting, architecture, and luxury objects, this course reveals the interdependence between images, poetry, memory, and imagination.


This course is comprised of four units that include a series of short video presentations, interactive activities for students to gradually test their knowledge, and bonus content. The course is aimed at life-long learners; all levels of knowledge are accepted and encouraged.


Course topics include:

  • The role of calligraphy as both visual and verbal expression

  • The relationship of text and image in illustrated manuscripts

  • The importance of poetry to album painting

  • Word and Image in Modern and Contemporary Art  




Dr. Michael Chagnon is a Museum Curator specializing in painting and the arts of the book from the early modern Persianate sphere. He was appointed Curator at the Aga Khan Museum in May 2019, where he has curated five exhibitions.


Dr. Chagnon has previously held curatorial posts at the Brooklyn Museum, LACMA, and Japan Society, and served in curatorial capacities for exhibitions at New-York Historical Society and Asia Society Museum.


In addition to curatorial and museum work, Dr. Chagnon has substantial teaching experience, including a graduate seminar on "Critical Approaches to Persianate Painting" at Columbia University (Spring 2019); a master-class series on Islamic manuscripts at the New York Public Library (2018); and surveys of Islamic art at City College of New York (2009-10), Montclair State University, New Jersey (2009), and the College of New Rochelle, New York (2008).


Dr. Chagnon received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 2015.


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