The art bias

The aim of this Bangalore museum collection is to reframe ideas of Indian art.
Posted 27 Mar 23 By Design Indaba Craft Creative Work / Design News Comments

The Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), a brand-new cultural institution in the heart of Bangalore, India, was the first private museum to open in the country in a decade, in February 2023.

The brainchild of philanthropist and avid art collector Abishek Poddar, the five-floor building that gets bigger with each rising storey was designed by Mathew & Ghosh Architects. It's host to five galleries, a 130-seat auditorium, a museum shop, an art and research library, a specialised research and conservation facility, and an education centre. The facade of the building is covered in steel panels embossed with a cross pattern that turns into a unique shimmering reflection of the cityscape.

The museum, headed by director Kamini Sawhney, includes a collection of work spanning pre-modern art, textiles, craft and design, living traditions, printing and advertising, photography, and modern and contemporary art. Conventional forms of ‘high art’ are housed alongside more ‘commonplace’ forms of creativity, like film memorabilia, in a collection of over 60 000 works.

This erosion of the lines between fine art and ‘ordinary’ creativity, and the museum’s focus on reframing the way Indians look at art, is reflected in its championing of women in art. One of MAP’s inaugural exhibitions is VISIBLE/INVISIBLE: Representation of Women in Art, a presentation of a range of paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles and jewellery that explores the representation of women throughout Indian art history.

Future exhibitions at MAP will continue to counter traditional art biases and expose the community to the art of those who previously ‘were not seen as worthy of entering a museum’. ‘We hope to change the perception of museums and art by making our museum a melting pot of ideas, stories and cultural exchange,’ noted a statement issued by MAP. ‘Ultimately, we want to inspire people to interact with art in ways that encourage humanity, empathy and a deeper understanding of the world we live in.’

As one of the most inclusive museums in India, MAP has a strong focus on accessibility, with special integrations for people with disabilities.


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Photographs: Iwan Baan, Museum of Art and Photography.