“Ravi Varma and Amrita Shergil, these are two of my most beloved artists,” states Kiran Nadar, Founder and Chairperson of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), which has completed 10 years.
The first private museum in a country which does not really boast of a strong tradition of visiting museums and art galleries, Nadar says that she was not apprehensive about its success while starting it a decade back, “I have always felt that a museum should be a place of confluence for discussion, appreciation and as a way of engaging with the world. I knew that with a solid program of engagement in hand, plus a knowledgeable team to steer the way, the museum would be able to create and maintain a good reputation,” she tells IANS.
Over the years, the museum has collaborated with The Met Breuer New York, Centre Pompidou Paris, Musee Guimet Paris, Tate Modern London, Reina Sofia Madrid, India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, not to mention the upcoming exhibition Extension. India at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow to be held later this year, which will be the largest exhibition of contemporary Indian Art outside the country.
This is besides a number of retrospectives of major contemporary Indian artists like Arpita Singh, Himmat Shah, Vivan Sundaram, Jeram Patel, Nasreen Mohamedi and Rameshwar Broota.
As the conversation veers towards KNMA’s partnership with the Ministry of Culture for the Venice Biennale and if there were more plans to collaborate with the government, she asserts, “The India Pavilion at the Venice Biennale was truly a partnership. We worked with the Ministry of Culture and CII, and the project was commissioned by the National Gallery of Modern Art. KNMA was the principal partner curator. It was a feat of cooperation and coordination as we managed to pull it off in record time. We are hopeful that the Venice Biennale will continue to happen in the future as well. Whether we are going to be part of that is yet to be decided.”
For someone who started her collection with Bombay Progressives (Souza, Raza, Hussain, Baker, Ram Kumar and Tyeb Mehta among others) and is always on a lookout for artists “that catch her eye”, an important responsibility of the museum is to promote understanding of the arts among children. “We consistently work with schools to get more children to the museum and involve them in arts-related activities. We conduct workshops that include interactive programs for kids of all ages to participate. In fact, there is an ongoing campaign called #chalomuseum, which is kind of a public service announcement to encourage the public to visit their local museums.”