Dawn com Writes –
Museum director Henry S. Kim delivers a presentation on Friday. — White Star -Photo Dawn com
The museum has had a very strong interest in Pakistan since its beginning. He said the museum existed because His Highness, the Aga Khan, wanted people to learn about the history of the peoples and cultures that comprise the 35 or more Muslim countries around the world.
He said: “Our education systems do not encourage us to understand diversity. You look at popular media and there is very little understanding of different cultures.
“Pakistan is one of the most remarkable countries in the world – it is also one of the most diverse countries in the world – one where 30 or 40 different languages or dialects are spoken, with many ethnicities, one of the earliest civilisations known, the birthplace of Buddha.”
The Aga Khan Museum is a gateway into the history and artistic traditions of the Muslim world — nearly a fifth of humanity — and for those non-Muslims and even Muslims who wish better to understand that world. Mr Kim explained that the vision was essentially to create a cultural campus. His Highness the Aga Khan had intended that the museum would be a place for active inquiry and therefore provide numerous opportunities and forms of programmes for learning.
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Beginning by saying that Serena Hotels have always believed in promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of Pakistan, he explained that Satrang Gallery served as a platform to promote the artwork of young talented artists to a wider audience. “Pakistan is blessed with immense talent,” he said, then quoted a speech by His Highness the Aga Khan — ‘The Museum’s focus on the arts of Islam will make it a unique institution in North America, contributing to a better understanding of Islamic civilizations – and especially of the plurality within Islam and of Islam’s relationship to other traditions. It will be a place for sharing a story, through art and artefacts, of highly diverse achievements – going back over 1 400 years. In a world in which some speak of a growing clash of civilizations, we believe the Museum will help address what is not so much a clash of civilizations as it is a clash of ignorance. The new Museum will have a strong educational vocation: it will be a place for active inquiry, for discussion and research, for lectures and seminars and for an array of collaborative programs with educational institutions and with other museums.’
Henry Kim gave an interesting and informative talk, beginning by appreciating the diverse and fascinating culture of Pakistan — the result of so many ethnicities and spoken languages – and its very vibrant art scene that is making waves around the world. “Just today Pakistani artist Imran Quereshi has been awarded the Medal of Arts by the US State Department,” he said.
Adding that culture of a society is just as important as the economic and social aspects, he went on say the Aga Khan Museum signals a new chapter in the history of museums in North America as the first dedicated to the arts of Islamic civilizations; spoke of its design and was conceived by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki after a five page letter from the Aga Khan about his vision. Besides its other unique features, it allows in light to highlight the paintings; is situated within the landscaped gardens of the Aga Khan Park and celebrates the arts in all forms. Visitors can view the Permanent Collection or one of the many temporary ones; listen to a performance in the auditorium; attend a class; study architecture; tour the gardens or get a taste of the great cuisines of Turkey, Iran, North Africa, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
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