Written on the body
Tucked away in the capital’s resplendent Lutyens zone, National Museum needed an iconic showstopper that would transform its image from a mere custodian and exhibitor of artefacts to a robust cultural centre and a happening place for the contemporary audience.
The ongoing eleven-week exhibition, The Body in Indian Art, has done it to a great extent, firmly establishing the museum as an inclusive institution pulsating with footfalls of the elite and the commoners alike.
Curated by Naman Ahuja, who teaches art and architecture at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the eight-gallery exhibition is an exhaustive study of the body’s myriad representations in Indian art, covering a period of 4,000 years across regions, religions and cultures.
‘The exhibition is part of a wider project to rejuvenate the museum and create new audiences for its extraordinary collections. We are now confident to raise the bar,’ said National Museum Director General Venu V.
Explaining, he said the museum held two spectacular exhibitions in recent years – Jewels of the Nizams and The Enduring Image: Treasures from the British Museum, an Indo-British collaboration marking the 50th anniversary of Indian independence.
'In both cases, we gave only the space and the objects were brought from outside. But in the case of The Body in Indian Art, the museum has opened its magnificent reserve collection, becoming the largest lender of artefacts, some of which were never shown earlier. We were involved in the exhibition from conception to completion,' he said, adding, 'It is an internal project.'
The exhibition has triggered a substantial increase in the number of visitors to the museum. During the period 14 March to 20 April, as many as 22,598 people visited the museum for the exhibition. Of this number, 11,516 were Indians, 4,764 foreigners and 6,318 students. 'The exhibition has surely played an important role in the increased footfalls, considering the fact that March is considered a lean month for the museum,' he observed.