For independent India,the National Gallery of Modern Art,inaugurated in 1954 by then Vice President S Radhakrishnan,stood as an institution aimed at promoting art.
More than 50 years later,as UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated a new wing at the institution on Monday,it was the same endeavour that she said needs to be fulfilled. The opening of the new wing coincides with the coming of age of modern Indian art, she said,before walking down the red carpet to open the door of one of the three new wings constructed at NGMA as part of the expansion drive.
Sharing the dais with her were Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni,Minister of State Kanti Singh,Culture Secretary Jawahar Sircar and director of NGMA Rajeev Lochan. Also in attendance were Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit,former Home Minister Shivraj Patil and members of the art fraternity artists Vivan Sundaram,Satish Gujral and Arpana Caur,photographers Raghu Rai and Ram Rahman,and gallerists Renu Modi,Ashish Anand and Sunit Kumar Jain among others.
Being planned since 1985,when the design for the new wing of NGMA was selected through a national competition,the expansion project adds 12,000 square meters of display area along with 9,000 square meters of art storage. The exhilaration of 1954,when S Radhakrishnan inaugurated NGMA,should be felt once again after the inauguration of the new wing, Soni said.
Seated before podium,Anjali Sen,former director of NGMA,smiled in agreement. Madhavrao Scindia laid the foundation stone of the new wings in 1997. I remember the difficulty we faced to vacate the hutments behind Jaipur House that were illegally occupied, recalled Sen.
While art connoisseurs admired the collection,the moment was nostalgic for artist Satish Gujral: I was present for the inauguration of NGMA and I am here now. I will spend time looking at the new galleries the new wings are much awaited.