The Museum Collections Gallery of the Aga Khan Museum is dedicated to showcasing the artistic achievements and lasting legacies of Muslim civilizations between the 9th and 19th centuries, from as far afield as Spain in the west and China in the east, as well as the interventions by contemporary artists that spark dialogue between the past and present.
In the Collections Gallery, visitors will enjoy a rotating display of nearly 200 objects from the Museum’s Permanent Collection, masterpieces reflecting a broad range of artistic styles and representing more than ten centuries of human history. Including such works of art as manuscripts, painting, ceramics, glass, and textiles, the Collections Gallery provides an overview of the artistic, intellectual, and scientific contributions of Muslim civilizations to world history and heritage.
Parts of the gallery are refreshed twice a year with themed installations that explore special topics and allow light-sensitive materials to rest.
Birds, June to November 2022
Take flight on a journey through the ages as you encounter fascinating sights and stories within the Aga Khan Museum's newest gallery rotation: Birds.
The Birds rotation features masterpieces from the Museum's Permanent Collection that evoke the splendour of the avian world – from a luxurious silk robe to paintings and ancient artifacts.
Birds have long played an important role in the Muslim world, being cherished as messengers, companions, indicators of seasonal change, sources of nutritional and medical remedies, subjects of domestic and courtly sports and amusement, and even political gifts. The multifaceted presence of birds in human lives has also made them significant symbols in mythology, religion, folklore, cultural traditions, and the arts associated with them.
Within the larger Birds rotation, you’ll find featured installations including The Golden Cage by contemporary artist, Hakan Topal, and an installation by British painter Elizabeth Gwillim, which examines the transformation of natural history studies in India between the 1600s and 1800s, by pairing five life-size watercolour paintings with four paintings from the Museum’s Permanent Collection.
Birds in Dialogue is presented in partnership with The Gwillim Project, an international research network funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, in collaboration with Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University.
The Bellerive Room is our homage to Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933-2003) and his widow, Princess Catherine Aga Khan, whose collection of Islamic art forms the core of the Aga Khan Museum’s holdings. The room is a recreation of the “La Chambre Persane,” or “Persian Salon,” in their home, Chateau de Bellerive in Geneva, Switzerland, where part of the collection was originally on display.
The room features ceramics representing the breadth and depth of production from the Islamic world. While many of the items here were originally used on a daily basis, they are presented here for their beauty and the high level of craftsmanship that went into making them.
The Bellerive Room is free for visitors to enjoy during Museum hours and is available for private functions and other events.
La Chambre Persane. Photograph courtesy of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
* Objects below will be featured in the themed installation Birds, part of the Collection Gallery exhibition.
Click here to browse the collections.