» » MIA’s Marvellous Creatures travels to Aga Khan Museum in Toronto




Doha: Following its success at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha in 2015, the internationally acclaimed exhibition Marvellous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art has launched in Toronto, Canada, and will be on show at the Aga Khan Museum till September 11, 2016.

The exhibition, developed and produced originally in Qatar by the Museum of Islamic Art, focuses on the real and mythical animals that appear in the legends, tales, and fables of the Islamic world. The Marvellous Creatures exhibition has been expanded in Toronto, and includes additional works from the Aga Khan Museum Collection, loans from international private and public institutions, and a contemporary installation by Lebanese artist Mohamad-Said Baalbaki.

Divided into the natural quadrants of fire, air, earth, and water, these magical creatures take centre stage in artworks on show at the museum, spanning the 7th to 21st centuries, and introduce well-known and beloved classic fables from the Middle East, North Africa, and Indian subcontinent, including Kalila wa Dimna, the Shahnameh, and One Thousand and One Nights.


(Photo: Janet Kimber / Aga Khan Museum)


The wide variety of objects presented in the Marvellous Creatures exhibition – including manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, glass, and metalwork – demonstrate the enduring appeal of these characters and stories across diverse cultures and generations. The illustrations and motifs seen in the exhibition reflect the diversity of Islamic art production.

Commenting on the exhibition launch, Shaika Nasser Al Nassr, Head of Exhibitions at the Museum of Islamic Art, said:

“We are proud to be bringing this magical exhibition to a new audience of art lovers in Toronto for the first time. The timeless tales highlighted in the exhibition will appeal to people of all different cultures all over the world. We hope that this exhibition successfully introduces these stories to a new audience, to create new opportunities for dialogue and exchange, to educate visitors on the breadth of Islamic art production, and to help the world understand the essence of Qatar.”


(Photo: Janet Kimber / Aga Khan Museum)


“Whether you’re considering Aesop’s Fables or a Persian epic like the Shahnameh, Marvellous Creatures of all kinds play a powerful role in our collective imaginations,” says Director and CEO Henry Kim. “Animals are appealing at any age, yet they can also transmit wisdom across generations and cultures. This is a fascinating exhibition that will engage the whole family.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Aga Khan Museum will be hosting a series family-friendly activities, including two day long camps for children, a “build-your-own creature” station, and a family storybook reading corner.


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