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Syria: A Living History at Aga Khan Museum (Diwan)

by - November 13, 2016

The Aga Khan Museum's newest exhibit Syria: A Living History highlights Syria's multicultural legacy, and showcases about 48 works from the past 5,000 years . It goes on beyond from what we know from the headlines of the country, and instead offers an in-depth insight into its history by bringing together artifacts and artworks. The exhibit will remain open until February 26, 2017, so there is still plenty of time to visit.

“We hope that a better appreciation of Syria’s priceless contributions to the world’s heritage over five millennia will add urgency to the efforts to bring about peace and reconciliation in that country,” says Aga Khan Museum Director and CEO, Henry Kim. “The sheer variety of these artifacts and their cultural breadth reveal just how multicultural Syria was, long before the term ‘multicultural’ waseven invented, and how essential that diversity was to the development of so many of the world’s greatest civilizations.” (source:
Additionally, many of the works of art are being exhibited together for the first time giving museum patrons a unique insight into the cultural traditions of both ancient and present-day Syria. Exhibition highlights include an eye idol from Syria, carved around 3,200 BC, a stele with a depiction of a prayer from Tell Halaf (10th – 9th centuries BC ) which still bears marks of a Second World War bomb raid and contemporary works by Elias Zayat and Fateh Moudarres that merge personal experiences with reflections on modern-day Syria.

Pickled Turnips and Labaneh

The exhibition represents an unprecedented partnership between several renowned public and private institutions. Institutional partners include the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin; the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin; the Louvre, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Atassi Foundation, Dubai; and the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection, Toronto.

I had a pleasure of attending a media tasting at Diwan; a beautifully designed restaurant inside the architecturally stunning Aga Khan MuseumDiwan's decor evokes the luxury of a 19th century private Syrian home, and its menu draws inspiration from Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian cuisine. Additionally, the 65-seat restaurant is filled with natural lighting, giving it a bright, contemporary and modern ambiance, allowing guests a great view of the adjacent Ismaili Centre.

That night, Diwan hosted an intimate tasting where we got to sample the new Syrian influenced menu. The new menu was curated by Chef Mark McEwan and Chef de Cuisine John Kovac, and is now available for lunch.

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 
Fattoush - cucumber, tomato, red onion, Macedonian feta, crisp lavash

Kebab Karaz - lamb meatball braised with sour cherries, pinenuts served with naan

Lahana Salata - cabbage salad with beets, almonds, feta cheese and citrus garlic vinaigrette

“Tarator” Style Roasted Salmonwalnut-crusted salmon, lemon Tahini yogurt, and quinoa 

After dinner, we got a private tour of Aga Khan Museum's newest exhibit Syria: A Living History.

Syria: A Living History

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 


Monday: Closed
(except holiday Mondays)
Tuesday: 10 am–6 pm
Wednesday: 10 am–8 pm
Thursday–Sunday: 10 am–6 pm


General Admission*
Friends: Free
Adults: $20
Seniors (65+): $15
Students:* $12


The Aga Khan Museum is located at 77 Wynford Drive, close to Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East in Toronto, Ontario

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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