An exhibition: ‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’ - a collaborative effort of the British Museum, London, National Museum, New Delhi; and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, was inaugurated by Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on May 4 at the National Museum. It will run till June 30, 2018.
Over 200 objects from the British Museum and 20 other museums and private collections from India are on display at the exhibition. The exhibition chronologically encapsulates the evolution of Indian civilization since antiquity and its interconnectedness with the outside world through a raft of exquisite artefacts from India and abroad.
‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’ offers insights into two million years of history. It was planned as part of a commemoration of 70 years of India’s independence and a year of major cultural exchanges between India and the UK. Conceived over a period of two years of intense planning and curatorial brainstorming, ‘India and the World’ has been jointly curated by a team in Britain and India.
It has been conceptualised by Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Director General, CSMVS. Curators Jeremy David Hill and Beatriz Cifuentes Feliciano, from the British Museum joined efforts with Naman P Ahuja of JNU and his curatorial assistant, Avani Sood to develop this unique exhibition. Ahuja also lent some personal artesacts for the exhibition.
The exhibition is spread over nine sections, each representing a pivotal moment in history: Shared Beginnings (1,700,000 years ago to 2000 BC), First Cities (3000–1000 BC), Empire (600 BC – AD 200), State and Faith (AD 100–750), Picturing the Divine (AD 200–1500), Indian Ocean Traders (AD 200-1650), Court Cultures (AD 1500–1800), Quest for Freedom (1800–Present), and Time Unbound.
Beginning with the Indus Valley Civilisation and coming down to the present, the artefacts range from stone sculptures, terracotta, coins, tools, inscriptions and manuscripts to textiles, jewellery, Mughal miniatures and contemporary paintings, demonstrating common threads of human history.
A striking feature of the show is not only its linear and chronological depiction of Indian civilization, but also its exploration of ideas across time periods, and a profound insight into confluence of the ancient and the modern. Essentially, it highlights the strong connections India has shared historically with the rest of the world, impacting each other through a gamut of activities that helped evolve a global culture.
The nine-gallery exhibition is staggering in the number of rare objects that it brings together, the time period and styles that it covers, the exquisiteness of each object and the rich stories that it tells about our ancestors. There are 104 important works of art from the Indian subcontinent in dialogue with 124 iconic pieces from the British Museum.
The exhibition is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Tata Trusts, the Getty Foundation and the Newton Bhabha Fund.