Even before the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) opened its doors — after eight months — to visitors on Tuesday, there was a queue waiting to get in. Cautionary boards across the campus introduced them to new protocols — from the need to maintain at least 6 feet distance between each other to mandatory use of face masks — as staff ensured that everyone used sanitisers placed across the premises. “We want to ensure the safety of our visitors as well as staff,” said Adwaita Gadanayak, director general of the NGMA.
He added that public spaces would be sanitised multiple times a day. “The halls are huge and we have umpteen open spaces, so NGMA will definitely be safe to visit even amidst rising Covid cases,” he said. The NGMA is among the numerous spaces under the Ministry of Culture that opened on Tuesday, after detailed SOPs for the opening of museums, exhibitions and art galleries were released last week.
Working from home during the initial months of the lockdown, most of the museum staff have resumed duties in office in recent months. “We have used the time to work towards archiving. Several virtual exhibitions and workshops were also held,” said Gadanayak.
Recording over 150 visitors on day one of the reopening, Gadanayak said the response has been overwhelming. “It exceeds our expectations. It’s nice to know that people have been missing art,” he said.
Among the first few visitors at NGMA was Delhi BJP general secretary Kuljeet Singh Chahal. “The festive season is an appropriate time to reopen the museum. In times of Covid, this will offer some positivity and add colour to our lives,” he said.
On view at present is the permanent display, and an exhibition featuring prominent works of Indian art, including M F Husain’s Zamin, Tyeb Mehta’s Santiniketan triptych and Sudarshan Shetty’s Man with Dark Glasses. An exhibition featuring works of nine artists declared as ‘national treasures’ is due to open soon. “Through the exhibition, we also want to showcase the diversity of our collection,” said Gadanayak.
“We have been preparing for this for some weeks now,” said Gadanayak.
When the lockdown was announced in the wake of rising Covid cases in March, the NGMA was preparing for a series of exhibitions — a show dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi was to travel to South Korea in March, and in summer, it was scheduled to host an exhibition of significant works of modern and contemporary artists.
But the pandemic stalled all plans.
At his office, he is already preparing for the year ahead — among the exhibitions planned is one on tantric art and another featuring works by Nandalal Bose.
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