Giving their space an innovative twist — an addition to Byculla’s Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum — is a derelict cottage turned Education Centre, which will now host seminars, screenings of documentaries, and art house movies
For A while now, the main museums of the city, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum have been evolving, with art and craft activities, technological advances, performing arts’ related sessions and public lectures.
Adding to this surge is the Education Centre at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla. The centre opened in January this year and since then, has been hosting a fine mix of events that includes short film workshops and film festival for school students, Folk and Indian Classical music performances and films screenings.
A seminar being held at the Education Centre
Conceptualised and designed by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, Managing Trustee and Honorary Director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, the Education Centre has been planned as a space for regular public lectures, seminars and screenings of art videos, documentaries on art and crafts, and art house movies.
The Centre is equipped with a state-of-the-art audio and video technology
The swanky new Education Centre was once a dilapidated 19th century cottage that was being used for storage purpose by the museum. This restored cottage now boasts of state-of-the-art audio-visual technology to enhance the visitor’s experience. “It was a long and difficult process to convince the Municipal Corporation to give the Museum the land behind the Museum, which includes the cottages and the plaza. Both were in a derelict condition. But eventually, we succeeded and the changes have been greatly appreciated by visitors,” says Mehta.
The Education Centre was once a rundown 19th century cottage
Mehta tells us that each programme at the Centre has been carefully thought upon such as to add up to the overall programmes offered by the Museum, while the focus on film and videos is for the first time at the Museum. The Centre is a part of the Museum Plaza that opened in December 2012 as a unique new cultural hub, which offers people a much-needed, programme rich green public recreation space. “The Education Centre will encourage new audience visits and so aid in diversifying and growing the Museum’s visitor base,” feels Mehta.
The Centre was launched with the Peabody Award-winning biennial series, Art in the Twenty-First Century by the non-profit organization, Art 21. In February, INTACH and the Helen Hamlyn Trust (UK), in association with the Museum conducted Filmit, an international collaborative project that fosters cross-cultural bonding among school children of India and UK through making short films. Other events that were conducted this month at the Centre include Epiphanies, an exhibition of recent works by artist Manisha Parekh, and even Hindustani and Carnatic music recitals.
“Art 21 film screenings are held every Sunday of the month, each featuring four artists in a 60-minute session. A repeat-screening of the same episode is held on Tuesdays. Our newest initiative is Video Art at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum. This is a curated programme comprising video artworks by Indian artists, conceptualised and curated by art critic Gayatri Sinha,” informs Mehta.
At Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, Veer Mata Jijabai Udyan, 91/A Dr Ambedkar Road, Byculla (E).
Open Thursday to Tuesday, 10 am to
6 pm log on to www.bdlmuseum.org
Making of the change
While Tasneem Zakaria Mehta was the brain behind the restoration and redesign of the cottage, conservation architect Vikas Dilawari assisted in the restoration process. It began in 2012 and took 18 months to complete. The building has completely been transformed internally into an intimate space for lectures, seminars and audio-visual interactions, while retaining its exposed brick façade and Victorian sensibilities on the outside.
Who was Dr Bhau Daji Lad?
Renowned scholar, social reformer and medical practioner Dr Bhau Daji Lad, was internationally recognised for his research on archaeology and numismatics. His statue stands at the Town Hall in the Asiatic Society building. He built the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1871 with the initiative of Dr John Birdwood. In his honour, the museum was renamed after Dr Lad.
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