November 9, 2020: Just for a Day, Aga Khan Museum Assumes a New Identity — D.C. Art Museum!

By MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher/Editor BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

When I left home (Monday, November 9) to run an errand, I went northbound on the Don Valley Parkway (DVP), and had planned to drive back south along the same route, and take the Wynford Drive exit that brings you to a T-junction, 200 metres east of the Aga Khan Museum entrance. But instead of taking the DVP, I decided to drive on Don Mills Road, and then turn left into Wynford Drive, and drive past the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Park and the Aga Khan Museum before getting home. The Museum now opens from Thursday through Sunday, and the full parking lots at both the Ismaili Centre and the Museum made me wonder what was going on — perhaps a community event I wasn’t aware of.

The Man from Toronto shooting Aga Khan Museum, DC Museum of Art
The Aga Khan Museum outdoor parking area was packed with cars, as it hosted the shooting of a feature film The Man from Toronto on Monday, November 9, 2020. This photo was taken after the event was over. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.
Aga Khan Park The Man from Toronto film shooting simerg malik merchant
A (possible) police officer on horse at Aga Khan Park during the shooting on Monday, November 9, 2020 of the film The Man from Toronto that will be released sometime later in 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

That hyped me up, and I drove into the Aga Khan Museum Parking lot, and managed to find a tight spot to squeeze into near a huge truck. Many vehicles carried US license plates. A gentleman politely asked me to walk on the pedestrian pathway on Wynford Drive. A volunteer I met on the way refused to answer my simple question, “What is going on?” citing a non-disclosure agreement! Such secrets make me really really mad!

The Man from Toronto film shooting Aga Khan Park
A scene being shot at the Aga Khan Park on Monday, November 9, 2020 for the film The Man from Toronto to be released later in 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.
The Man from Toronto
A transportation truck and filming equipment at Aga Khan Park during the shooting on Monday, November 9, 2020 of a new film The Man from Toronto. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

Then a few metres away, I met another gentleman who told me that the shooting of the action comedy film, “The Man from Toronto,” was underway, starring Woody Harrelson, a Primetime Emmy Award winner who has been nominated for three Academy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards! After about a minute, as I got closer to the Ismaili Centre, I watched and photographed a scene being completed, which had to be retaken. It was a 45 second event!

Aga Khan Museum November 8, 2020
Visitors taking photos against the front wall of the Aga Khan Museum Building on November 8, 2020, a day before the shooting of the movie “The Man from Toronto” that saw the museum name replaced with “D.C. Art Museum” in its place (see photos below). Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.
A temporary D.C. Art Museum banner covers the bilingual Aga Khan Museum sign for the shooting on November 9, 2020, of the film The Man from Toronto to be released in 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.
The Man from Toronto, D.C. Artt Museum, Aga Khan Museum, Simerg
A man, with his shadows, walk past the “temporary” D.C. Art Museum on the day of the shooting of the film The Man from Toronto on Monday, November 9, 2020. The film will be released later in 2021. Malik Merchant / Simerg.

An Ismaili standing outside the guardrails alongside me explained that earlier when he was taking his daily routine Aga Khan Park walk, he was asked to remain away from specific areas. Then he told me that as he glanced up at the museum wall, he was bewildered to see the original bilingual “Aga Khan Museum” sign in English and French now reading “D.C. Art Museum.” He said that for a moment he was in a state of shock. He saw people walk in and out of the museum doors, and only got a sigh of relief when he was informed that the new sign was for the movie shooting!

The Man from Toronto, Ismaili Jamatkhana, Simerg, Aga Khan Park
US registered cars in front of the dome of the Ismaili Jamatkhana during the shooting on November 9, 2020, of the film The Man from Toronto to be released later in 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant / Simerg.

After taking photos of the “new” looking wall, I walked across the Aga Khan Park to the Ismaili Centre, and met an American alongside some cars that I think included, a vintage Mustang. I learnt from him and others I talked to that the preparations for the shooting event had begun 10 hours earlier, and everything went according to plans. The date of the release of “The Man from Toronto” has not been finalized but it will be interesting to see the scene(s) when the movie is released. The Aga Khan Museum security guard who kept on following me from the Museum building onwards, as if I was a security threat, marred my otherwise enjoyable few moments at the Aga Khan Park under clear and beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures!

Coronavirus, you may try to deter us, but we have our winning ways!

Date posted: December 9, 2020.

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Malik Merchant Simerg Aga Khan Museum
Simerg’s Malik at Aga Khan Museum courtyard.

About the author: Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of this website, Simerg (2009), as well as two other blogs Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). Formerly an IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to family projects and his 3 websites. He is the eldest son of Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions for several decades in Mozambique, Tanzania, Pakistan, the UK and Canada in both professional and honorary capacities as teachers and missionaries. Malik’s daughter, Dr. Nurin Merchant, assists him as an honorary co-editor of the three websites. She received her veterinary medicine degree with distinction from the Ontario Veterinary College (2019, University of Guelph) and now works as a veterinarian.

3 thoughts on “November 9, 2020: Just for a Day, Aga Khan Museum Assumes a New Identity — D.C. Art Museum!

  1. Malik, thank you for sharing this unique experience. Exciting to hear we are far from cowering under covid. Noted of course all preventative measures were being followed. Will be looking out for the movie for sure.

  2. Ya Ali Madad,
    Thanks for sharing an important catch. Firstly, the Agakhan Museum changes to become American DC Museum. Not good.
    Secondly, when all borders are closed between US and Canada, how were these movie makers allowed entry into the country??? Well, whatever is done is done but appreciated you sharing the Breaking News. I might ask the PM on this issue whenever an opportunity arises.
    Thank you for your dedication in providing lots of beautiful reality stories with awesome pictures. Excellent.

    May the Almighty bless you and always guide your passion and dedication.

    With salutations,

    • This was a temporary one day change, and these changes take place all the time in the Bollywood and Holywood industries. Scenes are taken at different places and countries, under the pretext of other locations. Borders may be closed but transportation is open. Goods can move in and out, and business people are allowed to fly between countries. There are exceptions. I don’t know all the possible scenarios! I also noted that people were spread out and were masked.

      Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers for my work.

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