MIT Institute Archives & Special Collections

Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

Records, 1979-1990.

Archival Collection - AC 245

Administrative History | Scope and Content Note


The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, based at Harvard University's Fine Arts Department and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Architecture, was established in 1979 with funding from the Aga Khan. Its goals were to improve education, encourage research, and develop information resources for historians of architecture, and for architects and urbanists planning for and building in Islamic countries. The program focused on four areas: academic programs; special programs; research and publications; and library programs for collections, services, and automated information retrieval. Activities supported by the program included seminars, public lectures and colloquia, publications, and student travel. The program was originally funded for five years, and was extended for ten more years in 1985. Oleg Grabar of Harvard University and William Porter of MIT's School of Architecture were the program's first co-directors. In 1984 the Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program at MIT conducted a project entitled Images of Islamic Architecture which produced a database, a thesaurus of terms of Islamic architecture, and an optical videodisc that displays photographic images of Islamic architecture.

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12 cubic feet (12 records cartons)

The bulk of the collection consists of material collected by Catherine B. Asher, which includes 4700 5 1/2" x 8" black and white photographs taken by Asher, with corresponding worksheets, that document historic Islamic tombs and mosques in the Bihar and West Bengal regions of India and Bangladesh. In 1984 500 of these photographs were included in the Aga Khan videodisc as part of the Images of Islamic Architecture project. Also included in this collection are administrative correspondence and reports about the program, and records about the computer program documentation and the database for the videodisc project.

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