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Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture

The Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Fine Arts Library supports teaching and research on the history of art and architecture in Islamic societies.
Tombs of the Kings of Golconda (Hyderabad, India) Engraving after Grindlay, Robert Melville, British draftsman, 1786-1877 HOLLIS Record

The Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program at the Fine Arts Library, a part of the Aga Khan Program at Harvard and MIT, was established in 1979 by a gift from H.H. the Aga Khan to support teaching and research on the history of art and architecture in Islamic societies.

Engraving print showing a Frankish woman of Galata and her slave, both standing. The face of a slave is covered with cloth and she is offering a bag to her master.
A Frankish woman of Galata and her slave, about to go into Constantinople. Engraving (1740) after a drawing by Jean-Étienne Liotard. HOLLIS Record

The program funds acquisitions and cataloging, as well as research and reference services. It has helped build comprehensive collections that combine visual and printed documentation in all languages and formats on the art, architecture, archaeology, and epigraphy of the Islamic world.

The Aga Khan Program has made possible the acquisition of research materials not commonly found in other collections in North America due to their expense or rarity. These include:

  • a wide range of specialized periodicals and art monographs
  • museum and exhibition catalogs
  • sale catalogs of art dealers and auction houses
  • documents of preservation and planning authorities and archaeological excavations
  • facsimile editions of illuminated manuscripts.

The Middle East & Islamic Photographs include more than 150,000 photographs and slides documenting Islamic art and architecture, as well as ethnographic views, plans, and maps.

The collections are complemented by the Aga Khan Documentation Center at the MIT Libraries, which concentrates on architecture and urban development in contemporary Islamic cultures.

“Courtiers in attendance by a stream” from a dispersed Shahnama HOLLIS Record

Accessing These Materials

Collection holdings are represented in HOLLIS and selections of visual materials have been digitized and are available in HOLLIS Images.

The Guide to Research in Islamic Art and Architecture presents a selection of the most useful reference tools for the study of the art and architecture of the Islamic world. All entries include Harvard library call numbers and/or links to online resources.

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