Come Tuesday, and mute sculptures on display at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) will find their voice as they emerge in a new format. Thanks to the efforts of the Museum, as well as the funding by scholar Dr Devangana Desai and the Ministry of Culture, the erstwhile Sculpture Gallery has undergone a makeover.
Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director, CSMVS, explains that this change was part of the museum modernisation programme under which certain galleries including the Khandalavala Gallery and the Sir Ratan Tata Gallery underwent a revamp. “It’s part of a collective vision where we believe it’s time to change with the world. Instead of closing down the Museum we have been phasing out plans. After a six-month long renovation and re-organisation, we have brought about certain changes,” he says.
Stone sculptures formed a major segment of CSMVS’ sculpture collection and the Sculpture Gallery was divided into two parts — sculptures from Hindu mythology and those from Buddhist and Jain mythology. The reorganised gallery will reflect the Hindu sculptural tradition divided into the three major Hindu cults — Shiva, Vishnu and Devi. The gallery reflects the Western style of Indian sculptures, mainly from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
New and old
The revamped Gallery will include elements such as Braille labels, bilingual handouts with information on exhibits, interactive activities, puzzle sheets and art and craft activities for children. Clay modelling sessions with sculpture artists, dance demonstrations and academic lectures by scholars will be held regularly as well. While 45 sculptures will be on display, images of sculptures that are part of the Museum’s collection but not on display will also be showcased.
Despite these changes, the Gallery will retain some of its original masterpieces, including the mid-6th century Shiva sculpture from Parel, the 11th century Ganesha sculpture from Thane and the ceiling reliefs of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva from Huchchapaiyya Gudi temple (Aihole, Karnataka). The gallery will also house several new pieces from the Museum collection such as the Mahishasuramardini (Gadag, Karnataka) and Ganesh idol (Hoyasala, Karnataka).
Connect across ages
While the earlier displays weren’t children-friendly due to the lack of interactivity, Mukherjee and the team decided to introduce an audio-visual presentation as well as games. The 20-minute orientation film narrates the story of Indian sculpture in English, Hindi and Marathi.
“When the children leave they must take some knowledge back. The idea is to enable the audience to look at the exhibits and develop an interest in history. Each sculpture will have an information panel with an interactive kiosk to answer questions as well as an activity corner, for children,” adds Mukherjee, who along with Dilip Ranade curated the Gallery, with assistance from Mrinalini Jamkhedkar. The space has been refurbished by Abha Narain Lambah Associates.
Archaeologist and Indologist
Dr Arvind Jamkhedkar will inaugurate the Gallery on October 29, to be followed by the book release of Art and Icon by Dr Devangana Desai and a Kathak dance recital. The Gallery opens to the public from October 30.