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Donation worth flaunting

Donation worth flaunting
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In the 65 years since its inception, National Museum (NM) for the first time, is hosting an exhibition of a treasure-trove donated by a private individual. Close to a 100 works which C L Bharany and his father collected from across India will be displayed for over a month in a specially designed gallery.
 Sculptures in stone, bronze, and wood, besides paintings (on paper and cloth), manuscripts and textiles across the past two millennia will be showcased at the month-long show, titled A Passionate Eye.

The exhibition, mounted on 6,000 sq ft carpeted space, brings out select items from a donation of close to a thousand objects Bharany made to the museum in 1976 in memory of his father.
 ‘It thus acknowledges one of many people who have helped gather items of our cultural heritage,’ says Venu V, Director-General of National Museum. ‘It highlights the role private collectors have played in enriching the nation’s public museums.’

Giles Tillotson, one of the curators of the exhibition, notes the Bharanys - starting from Radha Krishna, the late father of Chote Lal (now 87) — are among the most significant collectors of Indian art in the 20th century. ‘What is striking is not just the range and quality of the works they assembled; their contributions to the work of scholars and of the country’s museums are immense,’ he says.

The objects at the show are diverse in terms of social context as well, ranging from courtly art and elite items to rural and folk art. ‘Indeed Bharany’s breadth of vision is a notable feature of his collecting: irrespective of where and when works were made, and for whom, his eye alights on anything of beauty,’ says curator Venkateswaran.

Through its design, the exhibition seeks to reflect this variety and eclecticism. Objects are grouped sometimes by material such as textile and sometimes by subject matter or themes such as asceticism - irrespective of provenance and date - to highlight the varied and layered links that inspire collecting. Venu says National Museum is keen to share more of the collections with people, and similar exhibitions will allow visitors to show more than what is on permanent display. ‘This is the first special exhibition National Museum is holding to explore this subject,’ he adds.
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