Aga Khan Schools students virtually tour the Aga Khan Museum
On 8 September 2022, Diploma Programme (DP) students from the Aga Khan Mzizima Secondary School, Dar es Salaam, the Aga Khan Academy, Nairobi and the Aga Khan Academies in Hyderabad, Maputo and Mombasa were given a virtual tour of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada.
Hosted by the Aga Khan Museum’s Director and CEO Dr Ulrike Al-Khamis, the session began with an introduction to the Museum and its art. This was followed by the virtual tour, during which the students examined and investigated four artefacts from Muslim civilisations in the 15th and 16th centuries. As Dr Al-Khamis explained the cultural and historical significance behind each piece, the students, who are currently studying the still life genre in their Visual Arts classes, learned how the natural and manmade objects were brought together to tell stories of faith, identity, place, belonging and beauty.
“The entire experience was great and [it] really inspired what I would like to do with my art,” said Omer Abdurrahman, a DP1 student from the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa. “The Turkish plates we saw gave me ideas about [creating] one-colour pieces, and having the other schools there helped bring us closer as the Aga Khan Schools. It’s something I would love to do again.”
Following the tour, the students were invited to share their insights and queries during a Q&A session with Dr Al-Khamis. Next, they were divided into breakout groups and asked to revisit the Museum’s 'Permanent Gallery’ or the online collection and choose three objects of personal significance to them for an imaginary still life composition regarding a topic of their choice. After analysing their ideas amongst themselves using the information they had learned during the tour, each group presented their compositions to their peers.
“Being invited to view the Aga Khan Museum virtually was a surreal experience as I have never been to, or seen, an art museum,” said Sarah Tibazarwa, a DP1 student from the Aga Khan Mzizima Secondary School. “I enjoyed learning about the different emotions and feelings evoked by the artefacts we chose when we were in the breakout rooms and being able to comprehend everyone else’s different perspectives of the same thing. Looking at the few pieces we did and learning their historical origins was very exciting as it creates meaning to the artwork and [gives us] a better understanding. It was also nice to relate the historical artefact to modern-day items and realise we haven’t lost all our ancestry in the new world.”
In addition to bringing together visual arts students from across the Aga Khan Schools, the virtual tour allowed students to contemplate the ability of objects to create potential for artistic storytelling through the still life genre.
Visual Arts Teacher Coach for the Aga Khan Academies Antoinette Blain explained how the skills demonstrated to the students during the tour will benefit them as they pursue their visual arts studies.
“The opportunity to hear from someone as expert as [Dr Al-Khamis] is a privilege and a learning experience for teachers as well as students,” Antoinette said. “The detailed look at some of the objects demonstrates to students how to think more critically about art and artefacts and how to unpack the meaning behind an object – two skills they will be developing in their DP art course.”
Founded in 2014, the Aga Khan Museum is the first museum in North America dedicated to showcasing art and artefacts from Muslim civilisations. The Aga Khan Schools thanks the Aga Khan Museum for providing our students with this incredible opportunity and looks forward to working together on future projects.
Photos (top to bottom):
- Aga Khan Academy Maputo students participating in the virtual visit of the Aga Khan Museum
- Aga Khan Academy, Nairobi student attending the virtual visit of the Aga Khan Museum
- Virtual tour of the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada for Aga Khan Schools students