In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Vartan Gregorian

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Vartan Gregorian, a founding Board Member of the Aga Khan Museum.

Vartan Gregorian was an illustrious historian and humanities scholar, with an exceptionally distinguished career as twelfth president of the New York Carnegie Corporation, president of Brown University and the New York Public Library, as well as provost of the University of Pennsylvania.

Gregorian was born in Iran to Armenian parents. He received his secondary education in Beirut, Lebanon, before moving to California in 1956 to attend Stanford University. Here, he graduated with honors in 1958 and was awarded his PhD in 1964.

In his capacity as an internationally acclaimed scholar, humanitarian and tireless volunteer for a variety of causes, Gregorian served on numerous boards, including those for many years those of the Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto after its inauguration in 2014. He was the recipient of numerous fellowships, including those from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies. He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Gregorian’s work was recognized with numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civilian award, the National Humanities Medal, France’s Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in recognition of his efforts to strengthen U.S.-France relations, and Armenia’s Order of Honor in appreciation of Gregorian’s service to his home country.

In 2010, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV announced the establishment of the Aga Khan Visiting Professor of Islamic Humanities at Brown University in honor of Vartan Gregorian. He was a close personal friend of both His Highness the Aga Khan and his brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan.

We are privileged to have benefited from Vartan’s enormous knowledge and experience during the early days of the Aga Khan Museum. He will be sorely missed.

—Ulrike Al-Khamis, Interim Director and CEO, Aga Khan Museum


It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of James Wolfensohn, a key member of the Aga Khan Museum’s leadership team.

James was deeply committed to the arts and served on the Museum’s Board of Directors in 2014. He espoused completely the Museum’s aims and policy of education to promote pluralism and to reveal the cultural links that bind us. He also served as Chairman of the boards of both the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Carnegie Hall.

James, the 9th President of the World Bank Group, was a global champion of human rights, economic justice, and scholarship, as well as finding ways to alleviate poverty, to invest in sustainable development, and to promote social justice globally.

James Wolfensohn had a close relationship with His Highness the Aga Khan and presented him the Vincent Scully Prize on January 25, 2005 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. His Highness recognized James for creating an ethic at the World Bank that recognizes that the development of individuals and communities are as important as return on equity.

We are honoured to have had James as a member of the leadership team at the Aga Khan Museum; he will be greatly missed.

—Ulrike Al-Khamis, Interim Director and CEO, Aga Khan Museum

In Memoriam: Peter George (2017)

“We at the Aga Khan Museum are deeply saddened about the passing of Peter George. Peter was a notable Canadian educator and economist, a Member of the Order of Canada, and a key figure in the Aga Khan Museum’s leadership team.

Peter was a driving force in the development of the Aga Khan Museum long before we opened. In May of 2012, he was elected as a Founding Director of the Board of Directors, and maintained the position until his death in April of 2017. From 2014 to 2016, Peter was also Chairman of the Finance and Audit Committee of the Museum.

Throughout his five-decade career, including an unprecedented 15 years as President of McMaster University, Peter influenced a generation of students and researchers to be informed, engaged global citizens. It was an honour and a privilege to have Peter share his expertise and enthusiasm with the Aga Khan Museum. His humour and incisive perspectives will be sorely missed.”

— Henry S. Kim, Former Director and CEO, Aga Khan Museum


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