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Let’s talk museums & more
- Global experts to discuss best practices in preservation, dissemination and marketing of modern art

Leading museologists, curators, art historians and architects from the US, Europe, Singapore and the rest of India are coming together for an international symposium on “Museums of the Future” on Monday, jointly organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the upcoming Kolkata Museum of Modern Art (KMOMA).

An art conference of this scale, to be held at Taj Bengal, is probably the first of its kind not just in Calcutta but also in India. The list of speakers includes names like Jay A. Levenson, the director of international program at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, David Thorp, the curator of the Frank Cohen Collection, UK, and Kwok Kian Chow, the director of Singapore Art Museum, along with artists like Subodh Gupta and Jitish Kallat.

The intellectual context for the seminar, as its title suggests, has been partly provided by KMOMA, the first-ever state-of-the-art museum in the country coming up on a 10-acre plot in New Town, Rajarhat, by 2013. This Rs 500-crore project is a tripartite venture, involving the state government, Centre and the private sector. Herzog and de Meuron, the Swiss architectural firm that designed the Tate Modern in London and the Beijing Olympic Stadium, is building KMOMA.

This is the first time a major international architect has taken up a project of this magnitude in India, since Le Corbusier built Chandigarh after Independence.

Although part of the seminar will be dedicated to discussing the logistics of the process by looking at how museums across the world have evolved with time, there will also be a strong focus on best practices in the preservation, dissemination and marketing of modern art. For a country with a pitiable tradition of archiving, this should provide a much-needed cue for the maturing of Indian art.

India may have made a grand entry on the international art scene, with names like M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta and Subodh Gupta commanding astronomical prices, but much needs to be done. As Rakhi Sarkar, the managing trustee of KMOMA and chairperson of the recently founded FICCI Committee on Art and Business of Art, says: “Although Indian galleries have generally done a good job so far, what is lacking is a solid knowledge base.”

KMOMA, which will house an academic wing besides three other national and international galleries, is expected to raise the bar of art education, research and curatorial work in India.

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