At a time when prominent art festivals across the world have either been postponed or have gone digital, India is readying for its first ‘Museum Biennale’. Organised by the Bihar Museum, the biennale will be held from March 22-28 in a hybrid avatar – physical and digital. It will see the participation of 12 primary national museums, including City Palace Museum, Udaipur; Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; Museo Camera, Gurgaon; and Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru.
“The Bihar Museum is a cultural hub dedicated to the spirit of enquiry, exploration and creativity of the people of Bihar and the world. The soft power of art and culture has a special space of engagement in our development strategy for Bihar. The Bihar Museum Biennale is a step forward to highlight the rich heritage of India and bring alive the extraordinary history of Bihar and also celebrate the cultural narratives from various parts of the world,” said Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar, in a statement released.
While the biennale was initially envisioned as a three-month-long event last year, in the wake of the Covid pandemic, the seven-day event will see specially curated virtual tours of participating national and international museums. Two curated exhibitions will be held at the Bihar Museum in Patna – one on the ‘Making of the Bihar Museum’ by its architect Rahul Gore, and another on the rich collections of 19 local state museums of Bihar.
“As an art historian, I can say that the soul of India, the heart of India in many ways is Bihar, whether it’s Pataliputra or Magadha. The Bihar Museum Biennale will be an opportunity to bring out a compendium of Indian museums, and celebrate their respective collections, each telling its own story,” said Alka Pande, project director of Museum Biennale.
A two-day international virtual conference, to be held on March 23 and 24, will see the participation of eminent personalities, including British art historian Neil MacGregor; Hilary Knight, Director of Digital, Tate Galleries, UK; Dr Souraya Noujaim, Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management Director at Louvre Abu Dhabi; Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director-General of CSMVS, Mumbai; and Spanish researcher Javier Baron, among others.