Collector’s Items

When Ali Adil Khan and his wife Shehla emigrated from Pakistan over 30 years ago, Canadian art provided a way to connect to their new home. Ali Adil began collecting artworks depicting the Canadian wilderness – slowly at first and on a shoestring budget, eventually progressing to larger acquisitions.  

“But as I began to identify more and more with my new country, my attentions shifted increasingly towards pieces that told stories of my ancestral homeland,” says Ali Adil. 

In the early 1990s, South Asian art was rarely sold in commercial galleries in Canada. Ali Adil opened his own gallery, inviting South Asian artists to exhibit their works and encouraging his community to invest in cultural art. As his “own best client”, his personal collection grew to adorn every corner of his home, keeping him and his family connected to their heritage. 

Recognizing the pivotal role that ROM could play in sharing the beauty and complexity of South Asian art and culture, Ali Adil began making modest financial contributions. He developed a friendship with Dr. Deepali Dewan, ROM’s Dan Mishra Curator of South Asian Art & Culture, and was thrilled to find he could help strengthen the Museum’s collection. 

“Ali Adil’s genuine friendships with artists across South Asia and the diaspora made him a central figure in growing the South Asian art scene in Canada,” says Dr. Dewan. “We are grateful not only for his support in the acquisition of pivotal pieces by modern masters like Sadequain and Zainul Abedin, but also for the artworks he has donated to the Museum.” 

Through the Shehla and Adil Giving for Art (SAGA) Foundation, which he runs with his children Adnan and Nadia, Ali Adil has contributed remarkable pieces from his own collection as gifts to ROM, including artworks by distinguished Pakistani artists that will feature prominently in special programming this fall to mark Pakistan’s 75th anniversary. The works will also appear in a 2023 ROM exhibition. 

Most recently, he bequeathed an ornate hand-carved jharoka, circa 1880, by renowned Punjabi architect Bhai Ram Singh to the Museum in his will. Understanding the importance of conservation, Ali Adil also set aside funds in his estate to ensure his legacy will be preserved well into the future. Through these bequests, he joined the Currelly Legacy Society, an inspiring group of donors who are shaping the future of ROM.  

“Dr. Dewan’s vision and dedication to South Asian art and culture is a key reason for choosing to leave these pieces to ROM,” says Ali Adil. “I know my collection will be in good hands.” 

The Khans will live on in the objects they have left behind. But there are many ways to leave your legacy, tailored to your inspirations and capacity. To learn more, please contact Janice Correa at