On 28 May 2010, Mawlana Hazar Imam and Canada's Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, performed the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park. Situated along Wynford Drive in Toronto, these landmark projects will add to the cultural and architectural landscape of the city, and become platforms in the search for mutual understanding among all communities and cultures.
The Aga Khan Museum and its collection reflect the plurality of the Muslim world, while the adjacent Ismaili Centre will create spaces for interaction and dialogue. The Park, which will be free and open to all, will unite the two distinctive buildings, incorporating an Islamic chahar-bagh garden with reflecting pools and walkways.
In his speech at the Foundation Ceremony, Mawlana Hazar Imam commented that these projects symbolised “the harmonious integration of the spiritual, the artistic and the natural worlds,” and a commitment to "inter-cultural engagement, and international cooperation.” Prime Minister Harper remarked that they would help “promote pluralism, peace and tolerance through the expansion of knowledge and understanding.”
To give the Canadian Jamat and the wider community – particularly the residents around Wynford Drive – an opportunity to gain a better awareness of the objectives behind this initiative, an exhibition that showcases the images and architectural renderings of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park, as well as some of the Museum's Collection, will be displayed across Canada over the next six months, starting in Toronto at the Ontario Science Centre between 23 December 2010 – 12 January 2011. Also on display will be images of the global Ismaili Centres and various Park projects initiated by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
“Construction of the Toronto projects is well underway,” said Zool Samji, Chairman of Imara (Wynford Drive) Ltd, the developer of the projects, “and we are on schedule in terms of construction milestones.”
Over the six months since the Foundation Ceremony, Imara has been taking photographs to capture the progress of construction. From what started as a wide open space in June, today the slanted walls of the Museum are now being erected while the circular Prayer Hall is taking shape. Together they are beginning to provide a sense of the buildings and the overall scale of the project.
“Residents of neighbouring areas, as well as many other interested parties are excited about the progress of the construction,” said Samji. “We are greatly appreciative of the enthusiasm and care that is being taken by the architects and all those involved in the construction.”
Speaking about the projects and the Exhibition, Mohamed Manji, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, said that they “are a part of the ongoing cultural and architectural renaissance of Toronto, a city recognised for its cosmopolitan cultural outlook and its intense diversity.”
Manji said he encouraged the Canadian Jamat to attend and bring their friends and colleagues to view the exhibition to gain first-hand knowledge of the projects, which reflect Mawlana Hazar Imam's confidence in Canada, for its commitment to pluralism and its support for the multicultural richness and diversity of its peoples.
23 December 2010 – 12 January 2011
Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Road, Toronto
The exhibition is located on Level 1 of the Ontario Science Centre's Entrance Building. There is no admission charge to see this exhibition; however, ticket purchase is required for admission to the Science Centre exhibitions and films.
Open daily: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except December 25 when the centre will be closed.
Open 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., December 26, 2010 to January 2, 2011.
For further information and directions to the Ontario Science Centre, please visit www.ontariosciencecentre.ca
Tentative dates for other regions
The following are tentative dates for other major centres in Canada. Final dates and venues will be provided in due course.
Vancouver – February 2011
Calgary – March 2011
Edmonton – April 2011
Montreal – May 2011
Ottawa, at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat – June 2011