Paths of Princes: Masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum Collection

Calouste Gulbenkian’s connection to Islamic culture and the fascination he had for the refined objects from different regions such as Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Mughal India are well known. Hence, alongside the diversity of objects that make up his collection of European art, the set of carpets, fabrics, ceramics, manuscripts, book bindings, lacquered objects and enamelled glass mosque lamps – from the most remarkable centres of artistic production within the Islamic world – occupy a place of great importance.

Therefore, after Parma, Paris and London, it is a privilege to host in Lisbon the magnificent exhibition of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum Collection, under the high patronage of His Highness the Aga Khan and His Excellency the President of the Republic of Portugal. This exhibition is an excellent opportunity to closely admire a series of objects that illustrate some 1000 years of artistic production, from the 9th to the 19th century, representative of a broad geographic area extending from Spain to Indonesia. It is also an opportunity all the more relevant given that many of these objects will only be shown to the public again when the Aga Khan collection is reunited, in 2014, in a purpose-designed museum in Toronto.

It must be emphasized that, beyond the intrinsic value of this encounter between two significant art collections, its symbolic value is of added importance at the present time for the role that institutions like the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture may take in furthering the understanding of diversity, a condition conducive to the opening of dialogue between peoples and cultures.

Emílio Rui Vilar

President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation


Akbarnia, Ladan, Junod, Benoît and Alnoor Merchant, editors. Paths of Princes: Masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum Collection. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2008.

Associated Sites

Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

288 pages