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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Wings in Waiting

If buildings could speak,then Jaipur House overlooking India Gate would have some fantastic tales to tell.

Written by Vandana Kalra |
January 14, 2009 11:50:55 pm

It has taken over 20 years. Finally,NGMA’s new sections

will open on January 19

If buildings could speak,then Jaipur House overlooking India Gate would have some fantastic tales to tell. For example,the neoclassical sandstone structure would share the lifestyle of its original incumbent,Maharaja Man Singh. It could narrate the exhilaration that defined the inaugural ceremony in the summer of 1954,when the then vice-president

S Radhakrishnan announced that Jaipur House would become the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). It would also describe the artwork of some of the greatest artists — from Amrita Sher-Gil and Rabindranath Tagore’s canvases to The Vollard Collection — that has been suspended on its walls during the course of 50 years.

The NGMA in Delhi is an important landmark,not just for art connoisseurs,but even students and tourists,all drawn by the architecture of this magnificent building — and the art within. Despite its grand façade and terrific location,the NGMA lately has faced competition from some savvy gallerists. But,now,the two new wings of the NGMA are ready to throw the spotlight back on one of Delhi’s oldest art institutions. The new wings will be inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi on January 19. “The expansion is in keeping with the aim of making the NGMA the largest network of museums in this part of the world,” says Rajeev Lochan,director,NGMA,after taking the Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni for a round of the two wings and the third under construction,covering an area of 24,700 sq m.

The expansion plan,on the drawing board since 1985,has been a priority for Lochan since he joined office in 2001. “It has taken a lot of time,effort and coordination. The additional space will enable us to display a lot more art,” he smiles. For the inaugural day,he has two grand shows lined up. While one floor will have an exhibition of Nandalal Bose’s work that has returned after travelling to the San Diego Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art,another curatorial exhibition,comprising artwork from the museum collection,will trace the evolution of art from pre-Company to the contemporary period. Titled “In The Seeds of Time”,it will include over 300 works of art,from Indian miniature paintings to canvases by Raja Ravi Varma,KG Subramanyam,V.S.Gaitonde,M.F Husain,Atul Dodiya and Jitish Kallat,among others. “It shows the continuity in Indian art,” notes Lochan.

After the opening of the two wings,connoisseurs will need to wait for some more months before they can troop into the third wing,that will comprise an auditorium,preview theatres,conservation laboratories and a cafeteria. Also on the anvil,apart from an exhibition of Tyeb Mehta’s work,is an art-appreciation course and workshops. “These will help in a better understanding of art,” says Sujata Parsai,exhibition and programmes officer at the NGMA.

And as the Jaipur House readies for the new neighbours,the old structure too will get a facelift. “We will be refurbishing it in accordance with the new structures,” says Lochan,as he prepares for the grand opening — after over 20 painstaking years.

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