Exhibition to unfold the evolution of Indian Civilisation
Having all the trappings of an iconic showstopper, an ambitious and mammoth international exhibition is all set to be mounted at National Museum, which chronologically encapsulates the evolution of Indian civilization since antiquity and its interconnectedness with the outside world through a raft of exquisite artefacts from India and abroad.
The exhibition, India and the World: A History in Nine Stories, is an extensively collaborative effort of the British Museum, London, National Museum, New Delhi, and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai and is actively supported by the Culture Ministry.
Planned as part of commemoration of 70 years of India's independence and a year of major cultural exchange between India and the UK (UK/India 2017), the nearly two-month-long watershed show at National Museum is travelling to the national capital from Mumbai where it drew an enthusiastic response from critics and public alike at CSMVS.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), inaugrated the exhibition at 5.00 pm on May 5.
The exhibition is spread over nine sections, each representing a pivotal moment in history: Shared Beginnings (1,700,000 years ago to 2000 BC), First Cities (3000–1000 BC), Empire (600 BC – AD 200), State and Faith (AD 100–750), Picturing the Divine (AD 200–1500), Indian Ocean Traders (AD 200-1650), Court Cultures (AD 1500–1800), Quest for Freedom (1800–Present), and Time Unbound.
The trendsetting show pieces together over 200 objects and works of art not only from the collections of the British Museum, CSMVS and National Museum, but also from around 20 museums and private collections across India.
Beginning with the Indus Valley Civilisation and coming down to the present, the artefacts range from stone sculptures, terracotta, coins, tools, inscriptions and manuscripts to textiles, jewellery, Mughal miniatures and contemporary paintings, demonstrating the common threads of human history. Overall, there are 104 important works of art from the Indian subcontinent in dialogue with 124 iconic pieces from the British Museum.
"This is a phenomenal exhibition for the sheer number of artefacts, the profoundness of concept and the unprecedented extensive collaboration of Indian museums and private collections with the British Museum, London. It truly offers a brilliant exposition on the splendid Indian civilisation and its impact on the global civilizations of the yore," says National Museum Director General Dr. B R Mani.
Conceived over a period of two years of intense planning and curatorial brainstorming, 'India and the World' has been jointly curated by a team in the UK and India.
Dr. Hartwig Fischer, Director, British Museum, said it is a first of its kind project that establishes a dialogue between objects, cultures, institutions and the public to provide a new and rich perspective on moments in Indian history.
Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director General, CSMVS, said, "The exhibition is a first of its kind experiment outside the US, the UK and European borders, and attempts to provide a model for museums to share their collections with people across the world, some of whom may otherwise never have access to them."
Curatorial walks and talks, besides educational activities will be held on the sidelines of the event. In addition, there will be theatre workshops, guided tours, thematic walks for kids and interesting events like treasure hunt and online weekly quiz on the event's website.
The exhibition, which is supported by the Tata Trusts, the Getty Foundation and the Newton Bhabha Fund, will run till June 30 from 10 am to 6 pm, except on Mondays and public holidays.