When the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) was arranging an inspiring educational event for members living in Canada, organizers knew they had to select a unique and remarkable venue.
HAA needed an environment that would reflect Harvard University's commitment to innovation as well as its deep knowledge of world history. They also required a facility that would meet their technology requirements. The Aga Khan Museum fit the bill for several reasons.
His Highness the Aga Khan, a Harvard graduate, founded and chairs the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) of which the museum is part. AKDN is also a private, international, non-denominational development organization that works to improve living conditions and opportunities for people in the developing world. In addition, the HAA noted that the museum has high-tech facilities, and it is a multifunctional site.
The theme of the April 2016 “Your Harvard” event was timely. Titled, Collection as the Architecture of Knowledge, it examined how collection, curation, conservation, and preservation might shape future knowledge in a digital world.
Harvard graduate Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of International Trade, led a lively discussion with Harvard faculty speakers in the museum's 335-seat auditorium, which combines state-of-the-art facilities with exquisite architecture, including a dome inspired by the ceilings of 10th-century Islamic buildings and excellent acoustics.
Throughout the event, every corner of the museum was filled with conversation. In the bright atrium, alumni, parents, and families enjoyed drinks while others greeted friends in the intimate Lapis Lounge, named for the built-in lapis lazuli bar.
The museum has been the site of elegant cocktail receptions, dynamic corporate meetings, and sophisticated soirees. It has a stylish Persian-inspired salon; a stone-tiled glass-enclosed courtyard; lushly landscaped gardens and patio areas; a Patron's Lounge with spectacular views of Toronto; and the critically acclaimed Diwan, an ornate dining space with the luxury of a private 19th-century Syrian home and a wide-ranging menu of delicacies created by renowned chef Mark McEwan.
“Their commitment to excellence led us to one of the best events to date in the 'Your Harvard' series. The museum was an ideal location for our program and the team really brought it all together and for that we are truly grateful,” said Jill Mazmanian, senior director of events, alumni affairs, and development at Harvard University.
The museum has earned praise from many of the organizations that have held events there, including Adobe Canada, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and McDonald's Restaurants of Canada.
Casie-lea Carpenter, who works in events management at McDonald's, recognized the museum's customer service. “The team of dedicated professionals allows us to host top-level events and meetings in a dynamic, high-tech, culture rich, and beautiful venue,” she said.