[attach]1708[/attach]More than 1,000 pieces of Islamic art — spanning over a millennia from China to the Iberian Peninsula — will be housed in Don Mills, where the first Islamic art museum in North America is slated to open in 2013.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Aga Khan Museum was held on May 28 near Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East.
Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, was on site to give his blessing to the $300-million dollar project, which also includes an Ismaili Centre and park on a 6.8 hectare plot at 49 Wynford Dr.
Toronto’s diversity was a main reason why the city was chosen as the location for the museum and centre. The Don Mills neighbourhood, in particular, was a good site because of its mixed community, said Amyn Sayani, a volunteer at the Aga Khan Council for Canada.
“You’ve got people who live here from all different cultures and different social economic backgrounds,” he said. “When you think about the idea behind these projects and investment in Canada it is because of Canada’s success of pluralism.”
The goal of the museum and centre is to bridge the gap between different cultures and faiths, Sayani said.
“There’s great contributions that Muslims have made to art, to science, to medicine. And very little is known,” he said.
The large collection, which comes from the Aga Khan family, will also showcase the diversity within the religion as well.
[attach]1709[/attach]“(Islam) is not a monolithic faith. There is a diversity of interpretations within it,” Sayani said.
The 930 square metre building, designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, will also house an auditorium, library, media centre and classrooms where educational programs will be held.
“(The museum) is not just a display,” he said. “It really has to do with education and awareness. There is misunderstanding of the faith and of the people so this is one way in which we can bridge that ignorance.”