December 01, 2018


By Vaishnavi Ramanathan


The Piramal Museum of Art (PMA) believes museums are interactive spaces where people come together to appreciate art and the human creative spirit. Since the Museum’s inauguration in 2015, the museum has sought to present shows that are both engaging and interactive. The year 2018 has been particularly active for the museum as new curatorial directions were forged, exhibition venues were inaugurated and educational programmes were launched. 


Byculla Gallery, the first of our extended museum galleries was launched in January 2018 with a preview of Thukral and Tagra’s specially commissioned works for the space. It was followed by a series of events specially curated for that location, one such event was a lecture performance by the artist Nikhil Chopra. This lecture-performance was based on his 3,000-km road trip from Athens to Kassel, which culminated with a performance at the prestigious Documenta exhibition in Germany last year. 


The Lower Parel gallery which is PMA’s largest space, the year opened with Art Here. Art Now. This unique exhibition featured art works created by professionals such as security staff, accountants, housekeeping staff and lawyers who work within the complex in which the museum is located and form the bulk of the museum’s audience. The response to the exhibition was overwhelming and was an eyeopener for everyone. For some of the participants, the exhibition made them realise their own creative side and for the museum team, it made us realise that creativity thrives everywhere.  


One of the key audience groups for the Museum is young audience and the Museum is deeply committed to education of and in the arts. To that aim, PMA partnered with the non-profit initiative RainbowFish Educational Trust, and hosted Create Change, a conference for Indian art and design educators in February 2018. The conference featured speaker sessions, multiple hands-on workshops and skill enhancement sessions, ready-to-apply curriculum, lesson plans and worksheets, and an Art Educator Award presentation. Speakers include renowned figures from the art world, including Nilanjana Nandi - Artist, Art Educator; ?Harry Hancock - Portrait Painter, Performance Artist and Art Educator; Maya Thiagarajan - Educator and Author; and Vidya Shivadas - Director, Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) among others. Over 120 art teachers from across the country participated in the conference.


June marked the launch of S.H. Raza: Traversing Terrains. Not only was this the first retrospective of the modern master Syed Haider Raza since his passing, but also one of the rare exhibitions to focus on his earlier art works as against his more famous Bindu paintings. The artworks were exhibited in a space specially designed for the exhibition and were complemented by rare photographs, letters, and exhibition invites sourced from Galerie Lara Vincy archives, Paris, Raza Foundation, New Delhi and Krishen Khanna archives. The exhibition’s aim was to draw diverse audiences including visually impaired visitors through its braille section and it succeeded in doing so. 


Traversing Terrainsreceived nearly 5,000 visitors. School children constituted a majority of visitors. Over 2,000 students from schools and NGOs visited the exhibition.  College students from fields as diverse as fine arts, advertising, journalism and architecture also constituted a large segment of the audience. Continuing the engagement with the officegoers within the immediate space, the museum organised guided walkthroughs in English, Marathi and Hindi. In addition, to special guided tours for groups on request, there were also free guided tours each Sunday that welcomed visitors from India and abroad. Since collaboration is an important aspect of the Museum’s working, several events were launched in collaboration with prestigious art organisations across the country like the Raza Foundation, Sir. J.J. School of Art, Alliance Française de Bombay, Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation at CSMVS, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, among many others. Private collections in art institutions were made available for viewing to the public for the first time with a specially organised walk through series. An average of 5 events per month were held and featured workshops, panel discussions, walkthroughs, studio visits and more. The programming for this exhibition drew from both key themes in Raza’s work and from the narrative focus of the exhibition.


Complementing the exhibition at the PMA were the residencies held at the Piramal Art Residencies,a space for nurturing creative talent.The topics of this year’s residencies drew from aspects of the SH Raza exhibition and focused on the city of Mumbai (Imaging Mumbai), colour (Chromatophilia), time (Being in Time). There were also residencies that addressed key artistic areas such as Black and White, Art and Science and Sustaining Earth. The 30 talented artists who were awarded the residency this year are now poised to enter the world of art and make a mark for themselves  


In September, the PMA launched a new gallery in Mulund titled Piramal Museum of Art | Mulund Gallery. The inaugural exhibition at this space featured works produced during the last 15 cycles of the Piramal Art Residency in Thane.  The Mulund Gallery’s launch event saw approximately 60 visitors, including students, Residency artists as well as artists living in the area. The Mulund gallery of the PMA is dedicated to presenting the work of young and talented artists and curators. 


As this exciting year at the Museums draws to a close, we look forward to exploring new directions in the future. 


You can find more information about the activities of the Foundation at www.piramalmuseum.com


The writer is Art Historian and Curator of Piramal Museum ofArt’s most recent exhibition, S.H. Raza-Traversing Terrains.