The Garden of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto
While in Toronto in June we got to see the new Aga Khan Museum, which had opened just the previous September. The museum is a showcase of Islamic art and culture from around the world.
The Aga Khan is the hereditary leader of the Ismailis, a branch of Shia Islam known for a belief in tolerance and pluralism. Toronto’s Ismaili community goes back to the thousands allowed into Canada from Uganda after Idi Amin expelled all Asians in 1972.
Outside the museum there are 10 acres of public space inspired by the gardens of Persia. It feels like a checkerboard with square pools of smooth black stone surrounded by white gravel.
Water reflects the Serviceberry trees planted in blocks that complement the pools. The reflections and the movement of constantly flowing water soften the rigidity of all the geometric shapes.
An Ismaili community and prayer center sits on the other side of the garden.
Long rectangular benches run parallel to the rows of trees. The benches contain planters filled with thyme.
I liked the way that the Serviceberries framed the view of the museum and community center at either end.
Apparently the nurseries of Ontario were scoured to find all the mature Serviceberries needed for this design. I did wonder about the wisdom of of relying so much on a single species, though no doubt the fall foliage and mass of spring flowers are ravishing.
Anyhow, this is a museum and a garden that is worth visiting.